Summer sounds can hurt hearing

Fireworks, concerts, lawn mowers among season's threats to ears

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A single firecracker less than a few feet away can generate over 125 decibels, a loudness level capable of permanently damaging your ears. Even within 500 feet of a typical fireworks display, noise can exceed safe limits.

When was the last time you saw someone covering their ears at a fireworks show?

When the noise level is so high it is hard to carry on a conversation, you may be damaging your hearing.

"Noise is the most common cause of hearing loss. Ten million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise, and 30 million are exposed to dangerous noise levels each day," says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of Better Hearing Institute.

"Prevention is so critical to preserving our hearing, especially for children who are at highest risk for noise-induced hearing loss," adds Kochkin. "So make sure your family and friends fully enjoy the holiday festivities and celebrate smart. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Stay a safe distance away. And pack the earplugs. Remember: close to 40 percent of hearing loss is preventable with proper protection."

Use earplugs

Summer is a noisy season. "Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, power tools and concerts all generate noise levels requiring ear protection," says Dr. Bradly Edgerton, director of audiology at Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic of the Northwest.

photoDr. Bradly Edgerton

Properly fit foam earplugs will provide plenty of protection for most of us and are inexpensive and available in most hardware and drug stores.

"Prolonged exposure to high levels of summer noises will lead to permanent hearing loss if no protection is worn," states Edgerton. "Make sure to wear earplugs securely and check that your child is wearing their earplugs properly, too."

The Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic of the Northwest will provide a free pair of contoured foam earplugs on a lanyard through Tuesday. (Limit two pair per person 18 and older.) To pick up your free earplugs, stop by one of its clinics: In Fisher's Landing at 1405 S.E. 164th Ave., Suite 102, or in Salmon Creek at 14411 N.E. 20th Ave., Suite 101.

If you have questions or want to schedule a free hearing screening, call 360-816-0449.