June is Men’s Health Awareness month. Often, though, when the topic of men’s health arises; if you are not experiencing heart or prostate issues; it is easy to brush off. And, if you are an avid hunter, likely you are spending the summer months thinking and preparing for hunting season.
Hearing is vital for hunting.
For this reason, while preparing; ear protection might be neglected on purpose. You have to be able to listen to movement around you and this often plays a factor in whether or not to wear ear protection.
“Most hunters that I know personally rely on their hearing more than their eyesight. If they hear something, near or far away, they can prepare themselves for the shot.” (Aaron Prigge, contributor at Elk-hunting-tips.net)
How loud sounds affect our ears:
“Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.” (CDC.gov)
“A gunshot ranges from 140 decibels to 190 decibels, which is enough to cause immediate damage. And it is not just gunshots; the whistles and quacks from loud game calls can also cause hearing damage.” (Lisa Packer, from Healthyhearing.com)
As stated above noise over 85 dB can cause damage, resulting in hearing loss. Hearing loss affects not only hunting but also conversations or even losing the ability to discern where sounds are coming from.
My ears need protection, but what are my options?
Passive noise protection is a term used for equipment that works by preventing all sound from reaching the inner ear. Earmuffs and earplugs will be under this category. If you are unsure of what to choose take a look at the noise reduction rating(NRR). Look for the highest rating possible. A higher rating means it will be most effective.
If you are planning on doing some target practice at a gun range; consider that gun ranges will have you shooting in close proximity with others. For that reason, two forms of passive noise protection can be used for optimal safety. In a gun range setting, you are mostly dependent on your vision to hit targets. Outdoors, however, this protection might be a hindrance.
For outdoors when hearing is most relied upon, electronic hearing protection is a good option. This type of protection works like passive noise protection in that it too blocks out sounds. The big difference is that battery operated microphones work to amplify external sounds, but shut off when high decibel sounds occur. In other words, low decibel sounds like movement nearby will be amplified, while loud ones will be blocked out.
Suspect you have already experienced hearing loss? The experienced audiologists at Acadian Hearing Center are ready to help; contact us today. A hearing assessment will determine how best to correct the issue; often the solution is quick and easy.
Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified Audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas Audiology License. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.