4th of July PhinD: How Loud is Too Loud?
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
The rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air... it's time to celebrate America's birthday! This holiday comes with its share of fun (but loud) noises, from fairs to concerts to fireworks. How can parents determine how loud is too loud? The short answer is brought to you in a fun graphic courtesy of the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD, 2018):
Worldwide, approximately 1.1 billion young people (12 to 35 years old) face hearing loss as a result of noise (Chadha and Cieza, 2017). To understand why loud noises can cause hearing loss, we first have to understand how hearing works. At a basic level, sound waves from the environment enter the ear and cause vibrations, which are converted by a special type of cell into electrical signals and sent to the brain (Harrison, 2008). Everyone is born with a fixed number of the specialized cells, called cochlear hair cells. Loud noises can damage these delicate hair cells, and once they are destroyed, they cannot be repaired (Harrison, 2008). It’s therefore incredibly important to take preventative steps against hearing loss, such as limiting exposure to noises at damaging decibel levels and/or wearing protective hearing equipment such as earplugs or earmuffs. An app such as Decibel Meter can be helpful in determining sound levels.
Strike up the band, shout "hip, hip, hooray!", and launch the fireworks, but be mindful of the noise level to preserve baby's hearing (and your own)!
NIDCD, National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.” 12 July 2018, www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/.
Chadha S, Cieza A. Promoting global action on hearing loss: World hearing day. Int J Audiol. 2017 Mar;56(3):145-147.
Harrison RV. Noise-induced hearing loss in children: A 'less than silent' environmental danger. Paediatr Child Health. 2008 May;13(5):377-82.