Air show, fireworks can cause PTSD, hearing triggers


The Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks have the potential to cause hearing damage to young children.

The show can also trigger people suffering with PTSD. WAVE 3 News met with an audiologist, a counselor and two children Friday to learn what can be done to make sure their Thunder experience is enjoyable.

The sounds of a daylong air show and the pops of fireworks may appeal to some, but can cause difficulties for others.

Maliyah Beason and Sophia Owens are 4-year-old students at the Heuser Hearing and Language Academy. They’ve already drawn in class what they think Thunder will look like, but the sounds aren’t as predictable.

Clinical audiologist Dr. Alan Kunz said the show can leave a ringing, mild ear pain or muffle in the ear.

“Kids with much smaller ears are much more at risk for hearing damage at a fireworks show,” Kunz said.

He said kids like Beason and Owens who wear hearing aids should lower them or turn them off and wear ear muffs. The show can also impact children diagnosed with autism.

“The visual stimulation with how bright it gets or how loud it gets are going to overwhelm children with sensory disorders,” Kunz said.

Veteran counselor at the Veteran Outreach Center in Louisville, Tat Randles said the show can also overwhelm veterans.

“Many have been in combat theatre, where planes came in destructive ways,” Randles said. “(It) could be more of a trigger if it’s a sudden sound. It replicates firing or explosion of mortar shells.”

Randles said show compassion if you see a veteran, jerk or get emotional during the show.

“Recognize they may be responding to something that took place in the past,” Randles said.

Loud noises and pops can affect anyone’s hearing. However, because of the size of a child’s ear it can cause more damage than in adults. Kunz said if someone is too close to the planes or fireworks it could cause hearing damage immediately.

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