It’s time for celebrating Diwali with beautiful lights and crackers around. It will be helpful to know more about the adverse effects of crackers on the ears during this Diwali. It is important to know this, because our ears are too sensitive to loud sound exposure. The hair cells in the inner ear tend to get damaged by loud sound of crackers, either temporarily or permanently, depending upon the loudness, duration and frequency of sound exposure.
Most people feel numbness in the ears for a few seconds after exposure to loud sound of bombs. This is called adaptation. But, there are many who cannot hear properly for longer time, however, recover completely in about 24 hours. This is called temporary threshold shift. In a few, the loss is much more permanent. This hearing loss is called permanent threshold shift. This is often associated with a permanent ringing noise in the ear called tinnitus, which is extremely difficult to cure.
Generally, crackers with more than 85 decibels (dB) can lead to hearing loss. If our ear is exposed to loudness level exceeding 80 dB over more than 8 hours continuously, it can lead to a temporary threshold shift. However, even one time exposure to sound exceeding 100 dB can lead to a permanent damage to the auditory system.
Very loud sound, over 135 dB can cause perforation of the ear drum, dislocation of middle ear ossicles and damage the minute structure of the inner ear or swelling of the auditory nerve.
- Avoiding crackers with loud sound is the best treatment
- Earplugs and earmuffs decrease the effect of loud sound and help in delivering a comfortable safe loudness to the ear
- Maintain a distance of 10 meter so that the loudness level reduces to half
- It is natural to feel blocked or feel numbness after a series of cracker burst exposure, however if you feel the same for more than 24 hours, consult your ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist or audiologist for hearing check-up
The author is an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeon