Are CSGO flashbangs causing real-life hearing damage to players?

By Kenneth Williams


Jan 27, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

A pro player claims that flashbang grenades can trigger hearing damage in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Team GamerLegion rifler Patrik “Zero” Žúdel claims that the specific frequency emitted by flashbang grenades can cause or exacerbate hearing damage in CSGO players. According to Zero, the sound created by flashbangs is very similar to the tones experienced by people with tinnitus. Don’t expect to see him do the Flashbang Dance anytime soon.

CSGO flashbangs emit a tone at 2,600 hertz, and experienced players can almost certainly recreate the sound in their heads. Zero claims that this tone is similar to the white noise occasionally experienced by those afflicted with tinnitus. As part of treatment, those who suffer from tinnitus sometimes attempt to determine the exact frequency of the noise that they hear.

Several online forum posters claim that their tinnitus falls around 2,600 Hz, the same frequency as CSGO’s flashbang. While the volume and frequency of flashbang grenades aren’t enough to cause tinnitus, this specific tone can aggravate those already suffering from the ailment.

Valve can take multiple approaches to fix this problem. The easiest would be to change the flashbang grenade sound altogether to something less aggravating. Rival tactical shooter Valorant uses less-realistic sounds that still obscure players’ hearing. CSGO is more realistic than Valorant, but this could be a viable solution.

Zero’s proposed fix is to allow the player to choose what frequency the flashbang emits. This would allow purists to keep the 2,600 Hz flashbangs while those suffering from hearing damage would have a simple fix.

How realistic are CSGO flashbangs?

Real-life stun grenades are much more impactful than their CSGO equivalents.

The ones used by the British military emit 170-decibel tones and flashes bright enough to activate every photoreceptor in the human eye at once. This usually leaves victims blind for five seconds, two seconds longer than a full flash in CSGO. They also disorient people for much longer.

Real flashbang grenades can cause temporary hearing damage and even deafness in some cases. Nearby explosions can cause bodily harm much more serious than the two damage they deal on contact in CSGO.

Some CSGO content creators have attempted to replicate the effects of real-life flashbangs using advanced coding and extreme environments. Popular CSGO YouTuber 3kliksphilip tested the experience on the brightest monitor available on the market. While it failed to cause hearing damage, the sheer brightness of a CSGO flashbang in a dark room was enough to cause eye pain.