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The Science of Hearing Protection

Did you know that it’s estimated that around one in 10 Americans lives with some form of hearing loss that is so severe that it affects their overall ability to understand normal speech? One of the primary reasons and cause for hearing loss in the United States is due to excessive exposure to high-level sounds and noises. There is certainly no denying that hunting with firearms and shooting firearms on the local range happens to be an incredibly popular activity in the states which subjects participants to incredible noise levels. Noise levels that can be so intense that they can cause permanent hearing loss. However, serious damage to your hearing when using firearms can be easily afforded if you choose to use the correct precautions when shooting or hunting.

Are guns really that loud?

Yes, they are! All firearms are exceptionally loud, but the level of decibels a firearm produces will vary entirely on what type of firearm is being shot and what type of ammunition is being used. When it comes to measuring the noise level of a firearm, the following factors are always taken into calculation:

Frequency: from both low to high sounds, which are measured in hertz.
Duration: how long does the noise last.
Intensity: how loud or soft is the sound, which is measured in decibels (dB).

How much sound can my ear handle?

After scrutinous research, experts have concluded that you should not expose your ears to eight continuous hours of noise at approximately 85 dB. Doing so can lead to permanent hearing loss. Noise levels that hit 130 dB or above have been known to cause instant permanent damage. Hearing loss is often painless and is a gradual process which means that losing your hearing completely can go unnoticed until there is complete hearing loss or related symptoms.

Related symptoms to ear damage and hearing loss can be tinnitus. Tinnitus derives from the Latin word which is associated to “ringing”. Tinnitus is the perception of a form of sound (often a faint ringing sound) when there is in fact no external sound source at all. Some individuals will experience ringing in their ears at some point in their lives, without even being exposed to significantly high levels of sound. If you are one of these people, don’t panic, it’s completely normal. Nevertheless, if you are around sound that is loud enough to cause ringing in your ears, it’s an incredibly strong indicator that your hearing runs the risk of becoming damaged. If your ears have received too much damage from sound, you may discover that the ringing won’t ever go.

How can I protect my hearing?

As a shooter or hunter, how can you protect your ears from damage? The answer has never been less clear. Earplugs or earmuffs. Both earplugs and earmuffs are designed to protect your ears from certain levels of sound (this will be found on the package in decibels) The higher the number of decibel, the more noise they are able to block.