Shooter’s ear: Hearing loss caused by gunfire

Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Last updated October 21, 2019

When used correctly, firearms provide security, livelihood, and recreation for millions of Americans. The National Rifle Association boasts more than five million members and according to the National Shooting Federation, 20 million people spend $16.9 billion annually on target shooting, a sport which supports more than 329,000 jobs.

While owning a gun can be fun and rewarding, it’s important to practice safe firearm habits—including those that relate to your hearing health.

“Gunfire is about the worst thing you can do to your unprotected ears,” said Susan E. Terry, Au.D. “Gunfire is impact noise and is more of an assault on your ears than a constant noise would be. Anytime you’ve got impact noise, you’re going to have issues.”

Ears ringing from a gunshot?
Here’s why: A gunshot produces a loud burst of sound, causing a concussive energy that rattles the eardrum, the little bones in the inner ear and the cochlea, a fluid-filled, snail-shaped organ with thousands of tiny hair-like structures that convert sounds from the outside world into electrical impulses the brain can understand.

“You may notice your ears feel stopped up when you’re done shooting and you can’t hear as well as you could before you began. That’s called a temporary threshold shift,” Terry explained. “The more you subject your ears to noises like gunshots, the more likely that temporary change is going to become permanent.”

“A single blast can cause lasting hearing loss and tinnitus. Once the damage is done, there’s no taking it back.”
While most noise-induced hearing loss results from continuous exposure to loud sounds, even a single gunshot blast can cause permanent damage. Terry said everyone within earshot of gunfire should make it a habit to wear hearing protection.

“A single blast can cause lasting hearing loss and tinnitus,” she said. “Once the damage is done, there’s no taking it back.”

Decibel levels of gunfire 
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says hearing damage occurs with noises of 85 dB or louder. Higher caliber guns produce a louder sound than their small caliber cousins; however, any shot fired next to an unprotected ear can be damaging. According to USA Carry, a .32 LONG fires a 152.4 decibel (dB) blast while a .44 S&W Magnum blast registers 164.5 dB.

What is shooter’s ear?
It’s obvious when a patient has been involved with firearms, whether as a hobbyist or member of the armed forces, Terry said, because they have the classic hearing loss pattern known as “shooter’s ear.”

“You can look at someone’s hearing who has been shooting for years and tell from their hearing loss which ear they hold a gun up to,” she said, explaining that the shooting arm shoulder helps shield the blast from hitting the ear full force, causing more damage to hearing on the opposite side. 

How to prevent hearing damage from gunfire
Most noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Terry urges parents to stress the importance of wearing hearing protection in noisy environments with their children and act as a role model by wearing it themselves.

“We live in a really noisy world and good hygiene is important,” Terry said. “Just like you would wear vision protection (when shooting), you should wear hearing protection, too. It makes a difference and prevents hearing loss so it’s a good idea to get it started off right in the first place. If you can prevent hearing loss, it’s much better than having to deal with hearing loss later on.”

The bad news: Even with hearing protection, gunfire is so loud that people who are exposed to it regularly will likely develop hearing loss later in life. The (somewhat) good news? Hearing protection will at least reduce the severity of your hearing loss, possibly keeping it to a level that’s still treatable with hearing aids.

Choose the right protective gear for shooting sports
Every sport has its own protective gear and shooting is no exception. In this sport, the type of hearing protection you wear depends upon the environment.  

Range shooting: Because gunfire happens at a rapid and continuous pace in this setting and usually indoors where sound is more concentrated, Terry recommends wearing a pair of earmuffs over foam ear plugs to provide the best protection against hearing loss. Specialty earmuffs can be found online or at your local sporting good store; foam ear plugs can be purchased inexpensively at the drugstore. A comfortable fit is important so you don’t feel compelled to take them off.
Competitive skeet: In this outdoor setting, shooters are constantly looking around searching for their target, which may not be conducive to wearing ear muffs. Instead, Terry recommends skeet shooters invest in a pair of custom molded ear plugs which block all sound from the rapid fire. Your audiologist may provide this service or recommend a reliable source
Hunting: Since it’s important to hear what’s going on around you when you’re hunting, it isn’t a good idea to wear ear protection that blocks all sound. For this activity, Terry suggests hunters wear specialty electronic hearing protection which suppresses the gunfire when the trigger is pulled. These devices can be found online or in your local sporting goods store.
If you wear hearing aids, talk to your audiologist about the best type of hearing protection to wear in each situation.
Don’t risk hearing loss from your hobby
The key to prevention, Terry advises, is to be aware of how loud your environment is and wear hearing protection when sound levels are dangerous.

“The best advice I can give is to be safe—and part of being safe is protecting your hearing,” she said. “Most people think ‘it’s not that loud,’ but people don’t have a concept for what is loud and what is too loud. Consider adding a sound level meter app to your smartphone. It will tell you how loud an environment is so when you encounter an environment that’s louder than you thought, you can wear hearing protection.”

Hobbies are important to good quality of life and so is healthy hearing. Regardless of how noisy your hobbies are, make your hearing health a priority by protecting your ears in noisy environments and scheduling annual hearing evaluations.

Source: healthyhearing . com

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Minas Tsigos A
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2021-03-19T14:43:24+0000
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George Ahas Lignos
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2021-02-09T07:01:42+0000
«These are by far the most phenomenal set of in-ears I’ve ever owned. They are beautiful, and they sound bloody awesome too. I use them while playing shows and in long studio sessions.The precision and accuracy right through the sonic range, is unparalleled with... anything else that I've ever tried. The high-quality armature and electrostatic drivers deliver crisp, punchy and extended frequencies. Their 3D-Fit process ensures the precision and reliability, and honestly feels like there is nothing in my ears.On stage or in the studio the most important thing for me, is to have clean frequencies. The incredible isolation and stereo image allows me to hear even subtle changes in volume, panning, EQ and dynamics.They have been such an incredible investment in my musical journey. I would highly recommend them to any musician, singer, producer or audiophile out there.”G.read more
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2021-02-04T12:31:23+0000
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Τα soundz ήρθαν να αλλάξουν τη φάση! Η αναζήτησή του τέλειου -κομμένου και ραμμένου- στα μέτρα μας ήχου αρχίζει και τελειώνει εδώ. Η σωστή εξισορρόπηση η ικανότητα για δύναμη όταν τη χρειαστείς χωρίς να στερηθείς ούτε μια συχνότητα και η απόλυτη εφαρμογή σε κάνουν να... τα νιώθεις σαν προέκταση του αυτιού σου. Η ποιότητα κατασκευής είναι απαράμιλλη και πραγματικά δυσκολεύτηκα να διαλέξω χρώμα ! Tόσα χρόνια απλά συμβιβαζόμουν με ακουστικά και δε το ήξερα ,και κάτι που έλειπε για μας τους επαγγελματίες είναι επιτέλους μια ΕΞΥΠΗΡΕΤΗΣΗ άμεση, ανθρώπινη από άρτια καταρτισμένο προσωπικό και αυτό είναι που σε κερδίζει από την πρώτη στιγμή! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️read more
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I bought a pair of soundz uni music earplugs, and although i am not a professional musician or a dj, i am happy to have made this decision.The plugs sit comfortably in the earchannel and do not bother you at all, even after 6 or 7 hours. In my personal experience, it... feels like it crops out clipping that medium quality speakers produce when put to maximum output power, and leave behind a deep bass and clear high frequences. The sound reduction can be chosen between -15 and -20 dBa (-20 for me), however once you wear them you can have normal conversation with people around you.As an amateur festival and event attender my only advice is to include the safety cord in your purchase, you don't want to be searching the ground for the plugs in a dancing crowd (and don't worry about looking like a lunatic with cords coming out of your ears, they are a great conversation starter)My overall experience is positive to say the least. Next day delivery and extra gifts from the company and a personalised thanikng letter really made want to recommend this brand and product to everyone who hates next-day ear-buzzing.read more
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If not the most obviously one of the most useful products for people who works or just going-out often in clubs and parties or generally places with highlevel db which are harmful for the ears. Crystal sound, easy conversations in loud music and no buzz in your ears... after being in a party or a place with highlevel db! Thanks Soundz for giving me the option of partying with high quality and no buzzing!read more
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Soundz Inferno! ��
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