They've packed the sunscreen and bug spray to protect their little ones while enjoying a Fourth of July celebration, but many parents don't think about the potential damage that the loud fireworks can do to a young child's ears.
"Fireworks can be harmful to a child's ears. It is rare, but I have seen problems such as hearing loss and a tympanic membrane perforation," said Laura Swibel Rosenthal, MD, pediatric otolaryngologist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the departments of Otolarynology and Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Fireworks shows can produce 130-190 decibels of sound. The World Health Organization recommends children not be exposed to any noise louder than 140 decibels. According to Dr. Swibel Rosenthal, one of best ways to protect a child's hearing is to keep a large distance between the child and the fireworks.
"The farther away you are the less impact the fireworks will have on a child's hearing. Sit at least 500 feet away from where the fireworks are launched. Also, consider purchasing noise reduction earplugs or headphones, which can help protect a child's hearing," Dr. Swibel Rosenthal said.
Though most of the injuries she's seen have resolved on their own, she warns parents to take the danger seriously and to think about their own hearing safety as well. She also warns there is no surgery to fix hearing loss from noise exposure and encourages parents to be proactive in keeping their littles ones safe from exposure to loud noises.
"The feeling of aural fullness and mild hearing loss that most of us have experienced immediately after recreational noise exposure is usually temporary. But exposure to loud sounds over time can have a cumulative and permanent effect on hearing, so protect your kids' ears now to keep them hearing in the future," said Dr. Swibel Rosenthal.
Loyola University Health System