MANILA – Maricar Estor, 20, has been wearing earmuffs every New Year’s Eve for almost 17 years now as loud sounds due to the revelry cause her palpitation and pain in her ears.
“I remember when I was younger, I cry when I hear firecrackers blasting and I’m even afraid to go out of the house even just to watch the fireworks display in the skies,” Estor told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.
She also prepares damp handkerchiefs to ward off fumes from fireworks.
As for her two pet dogs, Estor said she cuddles them close to her chest to make them feel secure.
“Sometimes, my dogs and I stay in the bathroom because the noise is not as loud there compared to my bedroom or other parts of our house. We sit there until all the noise are over,” she said.
Apart from amputations, blindness and injuries, firecrackers and fireworks can cause hearing impairment.
Earlier this week, the Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against fireworks explosions which result in sound levels of 140 to 150 decibels (dB), leading to pain and ear injuries.
It reported the first case of hearing loss due to kwitis (mini skyrocket), a 23-year-old woman from Central Luzon.
For comparison, the DOH noted that the sound of a normal conversation is around 60 dB, the sound of a motorcycle is 95 dB and the sound of sirens are at 120 dB.
Loud noises above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to ears, warned the DOH.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), a single loud sound near your ears can cause hearing loss.
It can happen over time from damage caused by repeated exposures to loud sounds and in a shorter time when the sound is often deafening.
What to do
Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said hearing loss comes with signs and symptoms.
“If you experience pain, discomfort, ringing, or buzzing in your ears, see your doctor,” he said.
The other symptoms of hearing loss are trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, understanding conversations in a noisy background, understanding phone conversations, and hearing speech consonants, according to US CDC.
Other signs of damaged hearing are asking others to speak slowly, clearly, loudly and repeatedly, and turning up the volume of radio, television and gadgets.
Herbosa reminded the public to simply watch community fireworks displays from a safe distance instead of lighting firecrackers.
“If you cannot avoid exposure to fireworks and their loud sounds, use hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs,” he said.
He added that staying away from the source of loud sounds like blast speakers would protect a person’s hearing.
Protect your pets, too
Loud festivities also cause stress to household pets like cats and dogs, who experience anxiety, discomfort, and fear when they hear loud sounds.
In a public advisory, the DOH said it is best to keep pets at home during fireworks display in communities because it limits the risk of them running away because of confusion and fear.
“Explore the use of calming wraps, vests, or shirts, which apply gentle pressure and have been known to alleviate stress in many dogs,” it said. “Proactively work with your dog before firework-heavy holidays, gradually exposing them to firework sounds while incorporating positive reinforcement, treats and play.”
If the pet manages to run away, make sure they wear updated identification tags. (PNA)