Summertime and Hearing Risk

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Story Updated: Jul 7, 2014

For many, nothing says summer like parties, parades, and pools. Unfortunately, fun seasonal activities can also be loud very loud! Fireworks, for example, can hit decibels of 150 more than twice that of normal conversation and on par with a plane on take-off.

And while expressway traffic is hardly quiet it pales in comparison with the 115 decibels of a rock concert or even the 90 emitted by an everyday lawn mower. Experts caution that prolonged exposure to such noises can actually damage the inner ear's nerve endings threatening permanent hearing loss. The ideal solution, they say, is simple, portable, and lo-tech: earplugs. Whether low-cost generics or custom-made, both are a fast way to dial down volume and risk. For swimmers who face the added issue of moisture exposure, forget cotton swabs. Instead, rely on head tilting and gentle towel wipes to release outer ear water- and prevent painful ear swelling.

And for fliers plagued by plugged-up ears? Try the old stand-bys: swallowing, yawning, and a stick of gum.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading health news for healthier living.

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