Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hunting and protecting your hearing

This is a guest post from John O'Conner about hearing protection during hunting season after reading the article I think I am going to take a bit more care of my hearing.

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at!


Hunting and Hearing Loss

With the arrival of fall and cooler weather, many outdoor enthusiasts are looking forward to hunting season. But before embarking on their hunting adventures, those actively engaging in shooting sports should always consider effective ear protection to safeguard their hearing. The extreme loudness of shots ringing out in close proximity to hunters' ears poses a permanent danger to healthy hearing if ears are not protected with some type of sound blocking device.

Depending on the type of weapon used, shots can reach up to 170 decibels in volume. However, all gunfire can be dangerously loud and cause temporary or permanent hearing loss to unprotected ears. Hearing loss may be immediate or occur by gradual onset. Hunters may initially experience characteristics like ringing in their ears shortly after exposure to firearm noise and find that they have difficulty discerning certain sounds. Constant ringing in the ear, also called tinnitus, is one of the telltale signs that damage to hearing may have been sustained.

It only takes one severe exposure to gunfire to damage hearing in hunters permanently. Noise-induced hearing impairments resulting from overexposure to loud noise during shooting sports may come with an array of safety concerns that may limit future hunting expeditions if hunters are unable to effectively listen to their surroundings for orientation, location of game, or certain dangers. Permanent hearing damage may require use of a hearing aid for everyday functionality. Hunters who already need to use hearing aids will still need to apply ear protection devices on each outing to avoid further, more severe damage that may leave them unable to hear.

Choosing the correct set of ear protection is crucial to effectively protect hearing. Ear protectors typically come in different shapes and sizes and should always be tight fitting, with no vents and little room for movement. Wearing hearing protection devices the correct way is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of potential short or long term hearing loss. Innovative devices, like electronic hearing protection devices especially developed for hunting use, are able to adjust amplification of sounds of differing frequencies. While hunters using these devices may be able to hear high frequency sounds in their environments, the devices will not amplify sounds above 100 decibels, such as gunshot noises. People who participate in regular hunting events should also consider having their hearing tested occasionally to have any potential existing damage to their hearing diagnosed and treated in a timely manner before their conditions worsen.

It is important for avid hunters to always wear sufficient ear protection. Once hearing is damaged, the trauma may be irreversible. Ear protection serves not only to prevent hearing loss but also to avoid aggravating existing hearing loss in those who already wear hearing aids. Proper hearing is considered a true quality of life.  Hearing impairment, however severe it may be, can significantly complicate daily activities and take the fun and excitement out of hunting adventures if care is not taken.

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