You’d never shoot at a shooting range without hearing protection, so why would you go hunting without it? Below we review how loud sounds cause hearing loss, the dangers of shooting a firearm without proper protection and how you can protect your hearing without stifling your senses.
What’s Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
In order to understand noise-induced hearing loss, you first need to know how you hear.
Soundwaves travel through the ear as vibrations until they reach your cochlea, which is lined with millions of tiny hair cells. These hair cells convert the vibrations into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve to be processed as sound.
Exposure to loud noises – whether moderately loud for a long period of time or a single extremely loud blast – can permanently damage these tiny hair cells, and once they die, they do not regenerate. The result is noise-induced hearing loss.
What Are the Dangers of Hunting without Protection?
Sounds that are 85 dB – about the volume of highway traffic – can cause permanent hearing damage after eight hours or more of exposure. A single blast from a 12-gauge shotgun at close range clocks out at 165 dB – louder than a jet engine 100 feet away or a rock concert. This can certainly result in permanent hearing loss.
Hunters are at risk of developing shooter’s ear, which is a type of asymmetrical hearing loss caused by the way hunters’ ears are unevenly exposed to the sound of gunshots. The ear on the side of the muzzle takes the brunt of the noise – about 157-165 dB.
The head acts as a buffer for the other ear, which hears the sound about 15 dB quieter than the dominant ear. This phenomenon is known as ‘head shadow’ or ‘ear shadow.’ The result is more severe hearing loss in the dominant ear.
Hunter’s Molds Are the Best Option
Any type of noise protection is better than none, so if all you can afford is foam plugs or ear muffs from the internet or a big box store, we certainly recommend wearing them. However, custom hunter’s molds are the best option for your hearing protection.
Hunter’s molds are percussive filters that are custom-fitted to the unique contours of your ears. They work by blocking dangerously loud sounds like the shot of your gun while letting ambient sounds like conversation with your hunting partner or the sound of footsteps through.
For more information about hearing loss or custom hearing protection for hunters, call Hearing Health Centers today!
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