Hunting and Hearing Loss

Hunting and shooting are one of the most popular past-times for men in America. But, shooting any type of firearm without the proper hearing protection can result in severe damage to your hearing, whether temporary or permanent.

A study by the University of Wisconsin found that men aged 48 to 92 who hunted regularly were more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss, a risk that increased seven percent for every five years a man had been hunting.

But what’s really alarming is that of the 3,753 study participants (83 percent of whom were eligible), “38 percent of the target shooters and 95 percent of the hunters reported never wearing hearing protection while shooting in the past year.”

One shot from a gun can range from 140 to 190 decibels, and can cause immediate damage to one’s hearing.

Avid hunter and writer for Outdoor News, Kristen Monroe, can attest to just how damaging a single shot can be; she’s ruptured her ear drum a couple of times. “I don’t think they all know that it really only takes one shot at the right angle to ruin your hearing and cause permanent ringing,” Monroe said of why hunters often overlook hearing protection. Monroe herself used to avoid using hearing protection because it got in the way while shooting, but said that since using SoundGear, she’s not only been able to protect her hearing but also not worry about the devices getting in the way while shooting.

So beyond the obvious use of hearing protection (a must if shooting any time of firearm), what are some tips to help protect your hearing while out hunting or shooting?

Silence That Shot!

Unless it’s illegal in your state, consider using a gun suppressor—or silencer—to help reduce the volume of a gunshot. Silencers offer some relief for your ears by helping to stabilize the loud propellant gases firearms produce when fired. It should be noted, however, that not all states allow silencers and that silencers don’t mean hearing protection can be avoided.

Take A Break

Even with the best hearing protection, long-term exposure to firearms can cause temporary or permanent damage. It may not be obvious at first, but any exposure to dangerous sounds can result in hearing damage. Over time, as the damage builds up, your hearing will decline. Consider taking breaks between rounds to help give  your ears a chance to decompress. SoundGear helps reduce sounds above 95dB while enhancing conversational and natural sounds, so even when you take a break from shooting, you don’t have to take your hearing protection out. This ensures that if someone else decides to keep shooting nearby your ears don’t get hurt in the process!

Keep Them On or In!

Just because you aren’t shooting, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing hearing protection. If you are out hunting with a group or standing to wait your turn at a shooting range, keep your hearing protection on or in your ears. You may not be shooting but your ears are still being exposed to harmful levels of sound.

But I’m Using a Bow…

If you’re out hunting with a bow hearing protection may still be necessary. Often times, you aren’t the only one out hunting, and if someone close by is using a firearm, your ears are still susceptible to damage. This is one of the reasons why SoundGear is so great. Unlike other hearing protection products that muffle all sound, SoundGear only reduces sound 95dB and over. And because it amplifies other natural sounds, not only are you protecting your ears from nearby shots, you’re also giving yourself a better chance at hearing approaching game.

To best protect your hearing while hunting or shooting, check out SoundGear, digital hearing protection that enhances environmental sounds and decreases the dangerous high-decibel sounds. Learn more about SoundGear here.

Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is commonly referred to as an invisible health condition and early signs of hearing loss are often overlooked. Unlike other medical conditions, you can’t physically see the signs of hearing loss. Because the changes often occur gradually, it is quite common for individuals with hearing loss to find ways to cope and grow accustomed to reduced hearing acuity.

Family and friends are often the first to notice. In an article on, audiologist Virginia Ramachandran explained, “People don’t always perceive that they need hearing aids, because hearing loss comes on gradually. Usually they are the last person to know. “

Recognizing Hearing Loss

The following questions can help identify common warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Do you have difficulty following conversations?
  • Do you ask others to repeat themselves?
  • Do you complain that people mumble or speak too fast?
  • It is difficult for you to hear and understand women and children?
  • Do you have ringing in your ears?
  • Do you have a favorite ear?
  • Do you have trouble hearing on the telephone?
  • Do you find yourself turning up the volume of your television?
  • Do others complain that you keep the volume of your television too loud?
  • Do you avoid noisy places?
  • Do you ever feel embarrassed about misunderstanding what others say to you?
  • Do you feel tired after listening in challenging environments?

Understanding Hearing Loss
Individuals with hearing loss have difficulty following conversations and understanding the voices of women and children. Most complain that people mumble or talk too fast. Hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus. A buildup of earwax, medication, exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss can all cause ringing in the ears, or tinnitus. The ringing might be constant or occasional, but it is often the first sign of hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss may prefer one ear, reporting that they have a “good ear.” They may ask others to stand close to the better ear or speak directly into that ear. Those with hearing loss may even avoid challenging listening situations including conversations over the phone and noisy environments.

Treatment Options
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions listed here, schedule a complete hearing evaluation with a hearing professional at Pacific Audiology Center. Effective treatments are available for hearing loss! The most common way to address hearing loss is with hearing aids, but occasionally medication or surgery is needed. A hearing consultation with a professional is the best way to find out if you have hearing loss and what options are available if you do.

Take the next step to restore your hearing. Early detection has been proven to create better treatment outcomes.

Hearing Hacks

According to, “life hacking” refers to any trick, shortcut, skill or novelty method that increases productivity or efficiency, in any walk of life. Or simply anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner. In a world full of important (and often unimportant) sounds, anyone with normal or impaired hearing can stand to benefit from hearing life hacks. Do you think you have hearing loss? Do you struggle to hear in noisy situations? Do you strain to hear on a cellphone? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, here are several hearing hacks that may get you on your way to better hearing.

Check your hearing with a smartphone app:
If you think you may have hearing loss but you aren’t sure, download SoundCheck to quickly screen your hearing. Screening results are displayed in an easy-to-understand format with a detailed view of the results. The app also features a sound level meter that shows you the noise levels in your environment.

A quick trick to hear speech or music better:
Though two ears are always better than one, research from University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Arizona revealed that the right and left ear each have their own unique strengths! The right ear is superior at processing speech and the left excels in processing musical sounds and tones. So when you are having difficulty hearing what someone is saying, turn your right ear towards the conversation. When you find yourself straining to hear a song, turn your left ear towards the music source.

Get a better night of sleep:
A number of research studies and physicians report that the use of sound may assist in obtaining a good night of sleep. Soft background sound (e.g. white noise, relaxation sounds) can create a relaxing environment but also provide a constant ambient sound that can help mask activity from inside and outside the bedroom. The next time you struggle to fall asleep, try turning on fan or download a noise-generating app to your smartphone.

Improve your listening skills:
Play listening games to improve your hearing-in-noise skills. Research indicates that challenging and training the auditory system to listen to speech in the presence of background noise can improve an individual’s performance in those situations. Check out HearCoach and ReadMyQuips to start working out your hearing skill muscles.

Experience better hearing in a restaurant:
There are a number of things you can do to have a more pleasurable listening experience while dining:

  • Request a table that is in a quieter spot. Sitting near the kitchen or the bar can introduce a great deal of unwanted background noise. Sitting on the peripheries of the restaurant away from these areas is a quick and easy way to improve your listening environment.
  • Request a booth. A booth helps to dampen background/surrounding sounds, providing a more favorable listening situation.
  • Request a round table instead of square. This will help you see everyone’s face and follow conversations easier.
  • Consider the time of day. Going to a restaurant when it is less busy and more likely to be favorably lit can greatly improve your restaurant experience.
  • If you struggle to hear someone because they are a soft talker or they mumble, make sure to sit next to them. Also, if you have a better hearing ear make sure to sit with the better ear towards the speaker.
  • Sit with your back to the wall.

Better cellphone conversations:
There are a number of helpful tips to hear better with your cellphone!

  • If you don’t wear hearing aids, try using headphones that have a microphone. Headphones not only help block out unwanted environmental sounds but also give you access to the phone call in stereo. This can reduce the strain required to listen on the phone and may improve your understanding.
  • When possible, take phones calls using the speakerphone feature on your phone. Again, two ears are better than one!
  • Take advantage of technology and make video phone calls using Skype or FaceTime. Research has consistently shown that the combination of visual and audio information greatly improves speech understanding.
  • If you wear wireless hearing aids, get a streaming accessory or Made for iPhone hearing aids to directly stream, in stereo sound quality, phone calls directly to your hearing aids.

We can all stand to hear better in our day-to-day lives so go ahead and give some of these hearing hacks a try! However, if you are struggling to hear in most situations, I highly recommend you see a qualified hearing healthcare professional. Hearing aid technology, though not a life hack, is the best way to improve everyday hearing. We would happily provide a free hearing consultation and demonstration of the newest technology in hearing aids.  Contact Pacific Audiology Center in Salem, Oregon at (503) 400-7003 today to learn more.