Hunters and the Need for Hearing Protection

Q.  When I’m hunting I don’t need to fire many shots, so does it really matter whether or not I wear earplugs?

A.  Yes, you need to protect yourself from loud noises of all kinds.  Whether loud sounds come from music, hammers, power tools, vacuum cleaners, engines, explosions or gunfire, any sound reaching levels greater than 80 decibels (dBA) can cause permanent damage to our ears.   It can also raise blood pressure, cause fatigue and distractibility, and make people irritable.  Circulation problems or certain other medical conditions add an extra high risk for noise induced hearing loss.  When strong vibrations accompany loud noise, it increases the extent of hearing loss even more. 

The greater the number of decibels, the more hearing you can expect to lose.  A typical vacuum cleaner, power saw or drill can produce about 90 dBA of noise, while jet engines can produce about 140, for example.  Compare this to the average loudness of conversational speech, which is about 50 or whispered speech at about 30.   Hand guns and rifles produce noise levels of about 140 to 150 dBA, and shotguns can produce noises greater than 170!  It doesn’t take many repetitions of noises this loud to cause a hearing loss.  Exposure to sound from even a single shot has caused permanent hearing loss in some individuals.  Repeated exposure to loud sounds over time will gradually add up to a serious hearing problem.  Hunters and anyone else who is regularly around loud sounds should invest in proper hearing protection.  Our audiologists can help identify the best type of custom earplugs or earmuffs that are designed for the type of noise you’re in.  Protect your hearing while you still have it!