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Can a Popping Balloon Cause You to Go Deaf?

by April Maguire

Balloons are a staple of birthday parties and social gatherings all around the world, and rightfully so. No matter how old you get, balloons have the innate ability to bring a smile to your face. Still, they do pose a certain amount of risk, and parents have known about some of these dangers for years. That's why, for example, kids are taught to keep balloons away from their mouths, lest they pop and suddenly become a choking hazard.

But balloons can pose other risks as well. In fact, a recent scientific study shows that, when popped, balloons can cause a significant amount of hearing damage.

Balloons and Hearing Loss

While noise-induced hearing loss has been a concern for decades, scientists are starting to notice an alarming increase, especially among children and teens. Most of these hearing problems stem from using personal electronic devices, such as iPads or MP3 players, and turning up the volume on the headphones too loudly. Realistically, however, any loud noise can negatively impact your hearing ability.

This risk of noise pollution is why people wear earplugs or over-the-ear protection when visiting a gun range, for example. But would you be surprised to learn that a popped balloon can produce a louder sound than a gun?

Those are exactly the results found in the latest study on the subject, performed by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada. For this research, the team tested three different methods of popping balloons: filling them with so much air that they burst, using a pin to pop them, and simply smashing them until they ruptured.

In their loudest test, the team ruptured a balloon that emitted a pop in excess of 165 decibels. For the sake of comparison, that's roughly as loud as a shotgun blast. And although people may wear hearing protection while skeet shooting or out at the gun range, children aren't likely to be toting earplugs to their friends' birthday parties.

Ultimately, however, the researchers note that the hearing risks posed by balloons isn't really the issue. After all, it's not as though most of us are in the vicinity of popping balloons every day. Instead, the purpose of the study was to demonstrate the larger point that our ears are constantly at risk. Any sound, whether it's a car alarm, construction equipment, or even a household blender can damage the sensitive auditory system in your body.

So try to be aware of your surroundings and keep your sound exposure to a minimum. That way you can keep your ears safe and preserve your natural hearing ability for as long as possible.

If you or someone you know would like more information about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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