Ear Protection for Hunters
If you love hunting, then you will likely agree that a keen ear is one of the most important assets of any hunter. It can make all the difference for a successful hunting trip. Therefore, your hearing is an asset you can’t risk compromising, especially if you want to continue to enjoy hunting for years to come.
While age and genes are unpreventable factors that can contribute to hearing loss, shooting without hearing protection can be controlled and should be taken seriously since hunting without proper hearing protection can almost guarantee experiencing hearing loss in your lifetime. Scientific research has suggested that men over the age of 48 who hunt regularly, are at an even higher risk of getting high-frequency hearing loss, which happens due to damage caused by sudden loud explosions. Moreover, the evidence has also suggested that many hunters do not take necessary precautions to protect their ears.
How Loud Are Firearms?
As per the scientific data, your hearing can be permanently damaged if you are exposed to sound greater than 140 dB. Almost all guns produce sound that is equal to or more than 140 dB level. A small caliber rifle can create noise around 140 dB, while big rifles and pistols can produce noise over 175 dB. If you are using guns in an enclosed environment where sound can resonate, then the risk of hearing damage is even higher.
It’s important to remember that people who do not use hearing protection while hunting can suffer hearing loss even with a single gunshot. So, it may not be a surprise, that during hunting season, it is common for audiologists to have patients experiencing hearing loss/ damage from failing to use hunting ear protection.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss Due to Hunting
Hearing loss can have different kinds of symptoms depending on how the hearing loss has occurred; whether it was gradual or immediate. Let us look at some of the most common symptoms:
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Sounds becoming distorted or muffled
- Difficulty understanding others when they talk
- Temporary hearing loss that may take 16 to 48 hours to resolve
How to Protect Your Ears While Hunting
You can prevent hearing loss due to hunting by using appropriate hearing protective devices (HPDs) like earplugs or earmuffs. There are two types of hearing protective devices available for shooting:
Electronic HPDs function to allow you to hear softer sounds while shutting out loud noises. Examples of Electronic HPDs include earmuffs, earplugs, custom made in-ear devices and behind-the-ear devices.
Nonlinear HPDS are designed to allow low to moderate sounds to pass through while blocking out loud sounds. Examples of Nonlinear HPDs include earplugs and earmolds. According to experts, HPDs that have filters are the best choice for hunting protection.
Useful Tips to Help Protect Your Hearing While Hunting
The following tips are provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):
- Always use some type of hearing protection whenever you go for hunting
- Always carry disposable HPDs —make them part of your kit
- When using big-bore firearms, try to double-protect your ears by using muffs over earplugs
- Avoid hunting in groups or in reverberant environments
- Use electronic or nonlinear HPDs for hunting
Contact Eagle Hearing for a Hearing Screening
Eagle Hearing can help recommend the hunting hearing protection for your needs. Call us at (208) 939-9359 or submit a contact form to schedule an appointment to consult with one of our audiologists.