Mahim resident Vinod Verekar has packed his bags and is ready to leave the city before the start of the Diwali celebrations.
Last year, the 49-year-old lost the hearing in his left ear due to exposure to the loud noise of sutli bombs burst outside his flat. “I was already suffering from a cold when I went to sleep. When I woke up the next day, both my ears were blocked and I was unable to hear anything,” said Verekar.
“He [Verekar] suffered a sudden hearing loss,” said Dr Gauri Mankekarm, consultant ENT surgeon at Hinduja Hospital. “When he came for the treatment, his left ear had 100% hearing deficiency while the right ear had suffered about a 10% hearing loss.”
This year, tests conducted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Awaaz Foundation showed that aerial firecrackers exceeded the permissible noise level of 125 decibel. “Every year after Diwali, we get a lot of patients with hearing problems,” said R Rangasayee, director of Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped. “Sudden and unexpected loud noise ruptures the sensitive eardrum, sometimes causing bleeding. Children are at a greater risk of developing hearing loss with the noise created from fireworks.”
For Verekar, intravenous steroids and drugs to improve blood flow to the affected nerve helped restore 50% to 60% of the hearing in his left ear. His right ear has recovered completely. “I am going to my native place for 15 days. I don’t want to suffer anymore. I feel bad when educated people behave irresponsibly,” he said.
Forty-year-old Zarine Siddique, a Gujarat resident, had to undergo surgery in Mumbai after a loud explosion damaged her right eardrum four years ago. “She could not hear properly after the incident. To prevent permanent hearing loss, a surgery had to be performed,” said Dr Divya Prabhat, a Dadar-based ENT surgeon.
According to doctors, chances of recovery are better if treatment is started within 24 to 48 hours of the injury.
Besides hearing, loud noises can also cause can cause high blood pressure, difficulty in sleeping and anxiety and headaches.
Another common complaint after Diwali is burn injuries. Dinesh Thakkar, 41, still has scars from the burns he sustained eight years ago. “A firecracker exploded in my hand. It happened late in the night and we couldn’t even find a doctor,” said Thakkar, who has since not allowed children in his family to burn firecrackers.