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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Birtles

Can fireworks cause hearing loss?

This year’s bonfire night is sure to go off with a bang! So wrap up warm, enjoy the dazzling fireworks, and… protect your ears. Yes, fireworks are bad for your ears, not just your dog’s.

Though dogs have more sensitive hearing than we do, the sound levels of fireworks are above our own comfort level. Meaning, on this explosive night of the year, you need to look after your ears to stay safe.

Firework display

Firework noise levels

How loud are fireworks? Firework noise levels can reach up to 150 - 175 decibels. At an average distance of three metres, the noise level still reaches 125dBs. This is above and beyond the level of noise deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. So, even if you’re having a cosy night in on firework night, you may still be disturbed by the noise. According to the WHO, any sounds above 85dBs are hazardous and exposure to noises above this level can cause hearing loss.

If you’re planning to attend a firework show, it’s important you protect your ears from these firework noise levels.

How can fireworks cause hearing loss?

Loud noises can damage the sensory cells in the cochlea. These hair cells turn sound wave vibration into electrical impulses which are sent to the brain. The damage to these hair cells is irreversible.

Can fireworks damage your ears permanently? If your hair cells in the cochlea are damaged then, yes. In some cases, fireworks can cause temporary hearing loss too.

Exposure to loud noise levels can result in:

  • Tinnitus - a ringing or humming noise in the ears (this can disturb the hearing of other sounds).

  • Temporary threshold shift - a decrease in the volume and hertz of sound you can hear. This usually lasts a day.

  • Permanent hearing loss - acoustic trauma occurs when your ears are exposed to loud noises (such as explosions) and the inner ear is damaged.

If you experience hearing loss, tinnitus, pain or discomfort for longer than 24 hours please seek advice from a healthcare professional.

How to protect your ears on bonfire night

To ensure you have a great Guy Fawkes, here are some measure you can take to stay safe:

  • Stand a safe distance from a firework display

  • Where earmuffs or earplugs (if you’re handling fireworks this is a must)

  • Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about your hearing


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