Big Bucks, Big Bangs and Your Ears

Hunters face a unique hearing dilemma: They must be able to hear the soft footfalls of approaching deer or other game, yet need ear protection when they fire a high-powered rifle or other high-decibel firearm.

The BAD News: When you lose hearing, it almost never comes back.
The GOOD News: Hearing loss due to noise exposure is the only type of permanent hearing loss that can be prevented.

When noise is too loud, it kills nerve endings in the inner ear, eventually permanently destroying hearing. There is no way to restore dead nerve endings.

What many hunters don’t realize about noise exposure is that the sound pressure level of many shotguns is such that it only takes that brief moment of the blast to sustain permanent nerve damage, so every year of that brief exposure has a compounding effect on the hearing nerve. Each year, with every shot, the damage increases.

Preventing hearing loss is always better than trying to aid it after damage has been done, but there are a lot of options available that can help. I do specialize in custom ear molds for electronic earplugs, such as Game Ear, which can make the gaming experience as rewarding as possible. These devices provide amplification to put a hunter in touch with the environment and game while protecting hearing.

Hearing protectors come in two forms: earplugs and earmuffs. You should wear hearing protection whenever you’re around loud noises, as when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, firearms or riding a motorcycle or snowmobile.

Earplugs 

  • Small inserts that fit into the outer ear canal. 
  • Must be sealed snugly so the entire circumference of the ear is blocked.
  • An improperly fitted, dirty or worn-out plug may not seal properly and can result in irritation of the ear canal, making custom-fit ear plugs the best option.

Earmuffs

  • Fit over the entire outer ear to form an air seal so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked.
  • Held in place by an adjustable band.
  • Will not seal around eyeglasses or long hair, and the adjustable headband tension must be sufficient to hold earmuffs firmly in place.
  • For longer-wearing periods, they can be cumbersome.

If you’d like to get in for a fitting before gun deer season, call my office today to schedule an appointment and FREE adult hearing screening.

Lori Fish, Au.D

About Lori Fish, Au.D

Audiology

Education
Masters in Audiology
Bachelors in Communicative Disorders
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
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