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Author: JennyPearce Published: 12th October 2011 11:37

The potential hazards associated with the use of fireworks are well documented and generally well recognised among the general public, yet the potential risk of hearing damage as a result of exposure to loud noise associated with fireworks has not received such prominent profile. The consequence of this, warns the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), the only UK charity solely dedicated to supporting those who experience tinnitus, is that many are unaware that a single bang from a firework in close proximity can permanently damage hearing and lead to tinnitus.



Prolonged exposure to noise at 85 decibels (db) is enough to risk irreversible hearing damage and some fireworks can be capable of producing loud noise in excess of 155db. The BTA advises that those likely to be exposed to loud noise caused by fireworks this Bonfire Night should ensure that their hearing is adequately protected to avoid the onset of tinnitus.

The advice comes as part of the charity's on-going efforts to raise awareness of tinnitus among the general public, and as part of its ‘Talking Tinnitus' campaign which aims to get people talking about their tinnitus experiences and to seek help from others including the BTA and tinnitus support groups. The BTA - which is the primary source of information about tinnitus - aims to encourage prevention through its educational programme and to seek a cure for permanent head noise through a medical research programme. Ten per cent of the UK population experience tinnitus at some point in their lives and there is currently no cure.



David Stockdale, CEO of the British Tinnitus Association, said: "Safety when handling or watching fireworks is traditionally of main concern around this time of year, but the risk of potential damage to hearing goes largely unrecognised. Thanks to public information campaigns during recent years, the general public are better informed than ever before, yet there is still much that can be done to prevent many thousands of people getting tinnitus as a result of excessive noise exposure."

The BTA recommends that hearing protection or ear plugs are used in order to prevent noise-related hearing damage. He continued: "Ear plugs help to cut out the harmful effects and discomfort of loud noise, and we would also recommend standing as far away as possible from the display, and keeping the length of time of noise exposure to a minimum."

Not an illness or disease, tinnitus is a term that describes the sensation of hearing a noise in the absence of an external sound. The noise can have virtually any quality. Ringing, whistling, and buzzing are common, but more complex sounds may also be reported. Troublesome tinnitus can be very distressing for the affected individual, and issues may arise with sleep, concentration and mood. However, in many cases, subtle changes in people's environment can address these issues, and improve quality of life. There is currently no cure for tinnitus.


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