Can a Firecracker Cause Permanent Damage to My Ears?

November 28th, 2016 | by Stephanie Loder | Audiologist
Can a Firecracker Cause Permanent Damage to My Ears?

How loud is a firecracker? Well, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), a firecracker set off approximately three feet away from you is around 150 decibels.

A typical conversation is measured at about 60 dB. So, it’s possible that exposure to noise at such high levels may cause damage to your hearing. The question is whether or not that damage is permanent.

Hearing Solutions’ Audiologist, Stephanie Loder, addresses one person’s concerns about hearing loss.

Ask an Audiologist

Hi, today I had too close of an encounter with a firecracker. I have never used one, and especially did not realise how short of a fuse the firecracker is. The firecracker exploded about 6 inches away, while I was exiting my throwing position from my right hand, as my head was facing to the left, exposing my right ear. A severe ringing lasted about 10 minutes followed by my inability to hear in the ear for almost 3 hours. Now, every 30 minutes I hear a ringing sound that lasts around 10 seconds or so. I would like to know if any permanent damage could occur, especially if the hair cells could’ve been destroyed in the ear. As a side note, I only listen to my music to a maximum of about 30% of the maximum limit. Hope to hear from you soon.

Audiologist Response

Thank you for your submission. I recommend that you make an appointment with your family physician to discuss your symptoms and schedule a full hearing evaluation with an Audiologist as soon as possible. Please note that at Hearing Solutions you do not need a referral from a family doctor for a free hearing test. Unfortunately, it is hard to say what damage may have occurred from those firecrackers without the results of a full hearing evaluation. It is possible that you have experienced a temporary loss in your hearing due to noise exposure, in which case your hearing sensitivity at the hair cells may recover. However, it is also possible that the hearing loss and/or ringing in your ears (medically known as tinnitus) may be permanent. Either way, one of our Audiologists can explain your test results  to you and give you recommendations for helping you hear at your best again. We would be happy to book you a free hearing test at a location near you.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. Please let us know if you have any other questions.


Stephanie Loder, B.Sc., M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO Audiologist, Aud(C)

Stephanie is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario. Stephanie currently sees patients at Hearing Solutions’ Carlingwood Shopping Centre location in Ottawa.

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