Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Risks of Exposing Your Ears to Shotgun Noise

man with shotgun hunting

Did you know?
Exposing your ears to shotgun firing (140 - 165 decibels) is at the top of the list for loud noises that can result in permanent hearing loss.  To be exact, regular exposure of more than 1 minute at or above 110 decibels risks permanent hearing loss.

"You do not want to reach the point of no return when it comes to your ability to hear clearly or even worse, lose your ability to hear altogether." – Michael Gehan, Audiologist, Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation

If you live in Texas and take advantage of one of the 8 hunting regions (Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, Cross Timbers, Edwards Plateau, Post Oak Savannah, Pinewoods, Costal Prairies, South Texas) or shooting simply enjoy visiting the gun range, please make sure you adhere to safety recommendation for recreational firearm noise exposure which could result in Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.

Common safeguards that guard your ears from hearing loss:
  • National Institutes of HealthFoam insert earplugs can keep some sound intensity from reaching the eardrum, as can protective earmuffs, available at hardware and sport stores. For better ear protection, talk with a hearing specialist about getting a custom-fitted ear mold.
  • Central Texas Gun Works - Mandatory Range Equipment to Qualify : Covered Ear ProtectionDouble-protect your ears, like putting muffs over plugs, when shooting big-bore firearms.
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human ServicesWear earplugs or other protective devices when involved in a loud activity (activity-specific earplugs and earmuffs are available at hardware and sporting goods stores).  Protect the ears of children who are too young to protect their own.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationProtecting Your Hearing From Firearm Noise. Using appropriate hearing protective devices (HPDs), such as earmuffs or earplugs.
  • National Rifle Association - Law Enforcement Training › Instructor Development Schools; The following equipment is REQUIRED and must be provided by the student for ALL firearm instructor development schools: Ear Protection, Ear plugs or ear muffs (preferred).
An estimated 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 already have irreversible hearing loss caused by loud sounds. And up to 16% of teens have hearing loss that may have been caused by loud noise. This makes loud noise one of the most common causes of hearing loss. 

The Risks of Shotgun Noise
People who use firearms are more likely to develop hearing loss than those who do not. Firearm users tend to have high-frequency permanent hearing loss, which means that they may have trouble hearing speech sounds like "s," "th," or "v" and other high-pitched sounds.  The left ear (in right-handed shooters) often suffers more damage than the right ear because it is closer to, and directly in line with, the muzzle of the firearm.  The extremely loud bursts of sound, such as gunshots or explosions, which can rupture the eardrum or damage the bones in the middle ear. This kind of NIHL can be immediate and permanent.

Shotgun Noise Audio Recording

Loud noise exposure can also cause tinnitus which is a ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head. Tinnitus (affects a minimum of 1 in every 10 American adults) may subside over time, but can sometimes continue constantly or occasionally throughout a person’s life. Hearing loss and tinnitus can occur in one or both ears. Click here to lean about the three most common types of hearing loss.

The side effects of hearing loss can result in anxiety and feelings of isolation if left untreated. But there are other consequential side effects (Fatigue, Earning Power, Dementia) that are less obvious or well known. 

Hearing Loss Protection
The good news is that people can prevent hearing loss by using appropriate hearing protective devices (HPDs), such as earmuffs or earplugs. The first step is to have your ears tested for hearing loss.  At Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation we can assess your abilities to hear clearly and produce custom earplugs for the hunting enthusiast.

Achieve Hearing & Rehabilitation is a speech and hearing clinic in Plano, Texas. Achieve Hearing offers speech-language pathology and audiological services, as well as hearing aids for children and adults of all ages. The Achieve Hearing staff includes an Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologists that are licensed in the state of Texas and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).  We know that most adults acquire hearing loss gradually over time. Thus, many people with a significant hearing loss avoid getting help because they do not realize they have a problem.  You can take the online hearing exam and call us today 972-608-0416 to schedule hearing exam.

Achieve a Balanced Life

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