One of the most popular traditions in the United States is lighting off fireworks, especially for major moments like holidays and sporting events. Perhaps the biggest occasion for using fireworks is during the Fourth of July to commemorate Independence Day. June through July 4th is National Firework Safety Month, so check out these tips so that you and your loved ones can enjoy the spectacle safely.
Lighting fireworks can be a fun activity, but it does pose some risks for the person initiating the action. Some of the most common eye injuries from fireworks include corneal abrasions, chemical burns, and retinal detachment. To reduce this risk, everyone involved with lighting the fireworks should wear protective eyewear to mitigate the effects of the sparks or an accidental explosion.
Staying a safe distance away from fireworks is not just to reduce the likelihood of getting hurt from improper lighting or explosion. Fireworks can have considerable effects on your eyes, ears, nose, and throat as a spectator even when everything goes correctly. The smoke from the products can cause dry eyes, throat irritation, and nasal congestion which can be exacerbated on a windy day. Sparklers, although safe for children, need to be held away from the eyes to prevent ocular damage. Finally, being too close to the action can create hearing difficulties as minimal as temporary tinnitus to as extreme as an eardrum perforation.
Fireworks can produce sounds reaching upwards of 150 decibels, or the equivalent of a jet plane. You might be in an area that has limited seating or can be difficult to create extra space, such as a ball field or stadium. To enjoy the fireworks without the extra concern of hearing loss or tinnitus, it is recommended to bring earmuffs or earplugs that you can use while the display goes on. This is especially helpful for those who are already in the beginning stages of noise-induced hearing loss and wish to avoid making their symptoms worse.
Dr. Steven Gold, a CEENTA otolaryngologist at our SouthPark office, explains the importance of proper ear protection while watching fireworks. "It is almost time to ring in the July 4 holiday, but do not let that ringing stick with you longer than you want. Concussive noise such as firecrackers and fireworks can cause temporary or permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears) as well as hearing loss. If you are close enough to the celebration that the noise is uncomfortable, your ears are trying to tell you something! Use some type of hearing protection to reduce the chance of temporary or permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Even the cheap foam earplugs which are widely available work very well."
A lot of memories can be made during a firework show but it is best enjoyed safely to reduce any issues with your eyes, ears, nose, and throat. What can be enjoyed year-round are the extensive services at CEENTA, including comprehensive eye and ENT care, hearing tests, and optical shops. Make the most of National Firework Safety Month and schedule an appointment with Dr. Gold at our SouthPark office online or through your myCEENTAchart account.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.
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