Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cause and prevention of hunter hearing loss

I have been contacted by John O'Connor who is trying to get the message out to hunters and shooters about the importance of protecting your hearing.  I won't go into any details, following is John's guest contribution to DaggaBoy Blog... 
Hi my name is John O'Connor. I am a father and 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

Cause and prevention of hunter hearing loss 

The art of hunting has been an American and Australian pastime for many years. Despite the fondness of many for this activity, evidence is strong that hunting with firearms can adversely affect the sense of hearing. Continuing this tradition without damaging the auditory organs requires hunters to be proactive in terms of prevention. Learning about the relationship between guns, sound and the workings of the ear is an important first step to preserving the power to hear.

How Much Sound Can We Absorb?

Like other body parts, the organs of the ear have their own reaction to overload. They deteriorate. The intensity or loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB), with normal speaking registering at about 60dB. The lowest decibel reading for shotgun fire is 150dB, a full 90dB above a typical conversation. While that figure may not surprise many, the little known fact that a mere 10dB increase actually doubles the loudness perceived by the ear puts the 90dB in a hazardous context. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (AHSA), noise that exceeds 85dB can contribute to hearing loss.

Symptoms of hearing loss

Certain symptoms serve as either precursors to or signs of hearing loss. They include tinnitus, i.e. ringing in the ear, pressure in the ear, dizziness,difficulty perceiving high pitch sounds and inability to understand speech in background noise. Hunters who are experiencing any or all of these should consult a physician immediately.  My father has been a hunter for years and often did not pay much attention to his hearing protection while out hunting.  Overtime he began to experience some of the symptoms mentioned above.  After making an appointment with his doctor they found that hunting was taking a toll on his hearing levels. My father still likes to hunt now days but always has his hearing aids in and makes sure he has the proper hearing protection with him. 

Firearm facts

Firearms are aptly named, since they must produce a small explosion in order to project bullets or pellets. As noted above, the “quietest” shotgun rings in at 150dB, but other guns can exceed that figure by as much as 20dB. Hunters can minimise the sound intensity of gunfire in a couple of ways. First, they can select a gun with a longer barrel, as there is a direct correlation between barrel length and decibel level. The longer a projectile has to travel before exiting the barrel reduces the pressure behind it, thereby reducing the noise.Second, hunters can refrain from using recoil suppression attachments since they prevent the butt and housing of the gun from absorbing energy when fired.That extra pressure is then heard in the gun report.

Plugs, muffs and technology

Earplugs and earmuffs have long been employed by hunters seeking to protect their sense of hearing. Using them both simultaneously has proven to be optimal, but this sort of noise reduction also prevents hunters from hearing important noises when hunting in hazardous terrain or stalking dangerous prey.Science has come to the rescue with electronic earmuffs and in-the-ear buds which filter out only those sounds that exceed a threshold decibel level. Swedish researchers have determined that the latter is the next best thing to the naked ear in detecting the barking of dogs, twigs breaking and wind blowing.  Protect your ears now to save your hearing in the future. 

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