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Sportsmen Hearing Loss: How to Avoid Serious Damage

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

Significant hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, from simple aging to prolonged exposure to harmful noise levels. Sportsmen especially need to watch out for noise-induced hearing loss.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Hearing damage often occurs when we expose ourselves to noises that are too loud, close or drawn out. Experts claim keeping certain types of sounds from reaching our inner ears and limiting exposure to damaging noise is the best way to prevent hearing loss.

In order to avoid hearing damage, a good rule of thumb is to protect yourself from any intensely loud sound you must shout to be heard over. Also, avoid any noise that physically hurts your ears, causes them to ring or leaves you feeling partially deafened. This is the case with sportsmen hearing loss as most guns register an extremely high volume intensity.

Sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). While whispered words register at 0 dB, normal conversation comes in around 60 dB. Snowmobiles and chain saws irritate our ears at 100 dB and jet engines can deafen us at over 140 dB.

According to audiologists, the damage threshold for individual sounds starts at 140 dB, while prolonged exposure to noises above 85 dB tends to cause permanent hearing loss.

These numbers prove the serious nature of sportsmen hearing loss. Sportsmen are exposed to damaging noise levels every time they shoot. For example, the .22 Long Rifle (.22LR), which sportsmen fire hundreds of shots at a time with no hearing protection, registers at 140 dB per triggler pull, the threshold for hearing damage. Many handguns, rifles and shotguns kill hearing even more at higher decibels.

Sportsmen Hearing Loss: What Can You Do to Prevent Damage?

In order to control the amount of noise reaching your inner ears and thereby protecting your hearing, choose either earplugs or ear muffs that fit your ears perfectly to wear in the field. Make sure to wear a device with an airtight fit, as this is the best and safest way to ensure you protect your ears effectively and avoid sportsmen hearing loss.

Bulky ear muffs tend to be a common choice for bench and competitive shooting, but individual soft foam, neckpiece-mounted or silicone plugs prove to be much more practical in the field. Unfortunately, in the process of effectively limited gunshot noise to a safe level, these ear plugs tend to leave sportsmen deaf to natural sounds like leaves rustling or game escaping through the brush.

If you want to eliminate harmful gunshot noise while keeping your ability to hear natural sounds, (often helpful while shooting) there’s a unique option for hunters weary of sportsmen hearing loss. A new line of earplugs features electronic noise-baffling devices to serve that purpose. You can take a pair of these earplugs to the field, to work or even to a rock show and hear sounds at safe noise levels while limiting noise that could cause hearing damage.

This is a unique situation where your way of life and interests can actually harm your hearing in the long run. Always wear proper protection if you know you will be exposed to high decibel sounds at work, a concert, an air show, or during recreational ventures like shooting and hunting. If you are interested in learning more about your options for hearing restoration, or would like to speak to a specialist about sportsmen hearing loss, please contact our team of representatives today.

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