WHICH STYLE BEST SUITS YOU AND YOUR HEARING LOSS?

As we have discussed in previous articles, there are many factors that go into investing in hearing aids.  Our priority, first and foremost, is basing technology and components inside the units on your lifestyle to ensure they are doing their job for the life you want to live.  It should not be based on what the hearing aid looks like.  With that being said, there are many different styles of hearing aids.  The range of style options allows hearing care professionals to work with the wants and needs of each patient; however,....

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HEARING VERSUS UNDERSTANDING

Too often, the process in which we hear is overlooked.  As a hearing care professional, it is crucial for patients to recognize how our ears and brain work in order to understand the process in which we hear vs. how we understand.  I have worked with many patients and feel that the most successful have a clear understanding of these differences which provides realistic expectations during the hearing aid process.

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MEDICAL CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

Did you know your health could be negatively affecting your hearing? It’s true!  Hearing loss is associated with a number of different health problems ranging from hypertension to heart health. Today’s article is not to scare you, rather to inform you, and a lot of information will be hard. Working with your primary care physician or another certified healthcare professional can go a long way, especially when we are talking about medical causes for hearing loss.

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HUNTING AND HEARING LOSS

when I am out hunting I won’t be able to hear fellow hunters or the rustle of leaves”. That is not the case with today’s technology!  There are several options for technology to help protect hearing but also hear sounds necessary while hunting. Most importantly, whoever is doing the hunting needs to take the time to research which options are best for their budget and needs.


What does the NRR rating really mean?


As many already know, NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating.  When an NRR rating is given, it does not mean that the sound someone is being exposed to is reduced by that number.  For example, a gunshot goes off at 120 dB.  If an NRR rating is 33dB, it does not mean you can subtract 33dB from the 120dB noise.  So how is it calculated?  Rule of thumb: Take the NRR rating, subtract seven and then divide by two.  Let’s use our example again.  If the gunshot is 120dB and the NRR is 33dB, the actual dB you subtract from the noise is 13dB ((33-7)/2) which means your new level of exposure is 107dB.  This number is still well above the range for potential damage.  The take away: the higher the NRR rating, the better when it comes to hunting!

Ultimately, the best hearing protection you can provide yourself is wearing dual.  How is this calculated?  Take the highest NRR rating of the two and add five.  Example: Insert foam earplug (NRR 29) + earmuffs (NRR ~27) = NRR is 34 dB.


Effective Ways to Protect  Your Hearing - Sound Suppressors and Silencers


Some states allow you to use a sound suppressor/silencer when using firearms.  In order to determine if they are allowed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky I called the Cabela’s here in town and they were extremely helpful!  Sound suppressors and silencers are legal in the Commonwealth however, you cannot just go buy one.  They require a special license and registration, however, the investment is worthwhile in the long run, as it could potentially save your hearing or at minimum prevent damage from accumulating as rapidly.  


Options for Hearing Protection 3M Peltor, Howard Leight Lightning or Howard Leight Thunder are excellent options with an NRR of 30dB!  Not to mention they run about $25-30.00 total.


For a complete list of hearing protection ranging in NRR ratings for ear plugs and ear muffs please visit: www.coopersafety.com


Ineffective Ways to Protect Your Hearing


Hearing aids.  First, most hearing aids do not provide the proper seal to fully protect your ears against the blast from a gunshot.  Second, built into hearing aids is an attack time.  This is to protect your hearing against a steady state noise like a firetruck or some loud noise that the aids can recognize and then, within milliseconds, compress the signal to prevent damage.  While this is functional for a steady state noise, this is NOT enough with a gunshot.  Due to the attack time, the gunshot has already done its damage to your ears before the hearing aids are able to compress the signal.


Another ineffective way to protect hearing is with ill fitting protection.  If protection is not properly inserted or worn, the NRR rating no longer matters. Please take the time to ensure protection is properly in place to prevent further damage from happening.  


Signs of Hearing Loss from Hunting and Shooting


Which hand is your dominant hand while shooting?  Because of the way sound travels and the position of your head while holding the firearm, the opposite ear is affected first.  For a right handed shooter, the left ear would be affected first and vice versa.  If hearing loss is detected in one ear, conveniently the ear closest to the firearm, it’s time to contact an audiologist. Request diagnostic testing to be completed in order to better understand the current state of hearing abilities.  Additionally, protect your hearing!


Conclusion


I believe we can all agree that hunting can lead to hearing loss. It’s important to take the time and do some quality research to make sure you are protecting your hearing as much as possible.  Should you still have questions, contact a local audiologist.  Any one of them would be happy to help you in protecting your hearing.

DR. BREWER

Dr. Brewer completed her Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine and her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She is licensed by the state of Kentucky as an audiologist and hearing instrument specialist. She is also a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, Kentucky Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

more articles by dr brewer

It’s almost that time of year.  Guns are being cleaned, license are being renewed and cameras are making their way into woods everywhere to scout potential hunting grounds.  There is so much to think about but one of the most important components of hunting is often overlooked: Hearing Protection.


So why does hearing protection matter?  Let’s remember that normal conversation occurs around 60 dB.  A blast from a gun can often exceed 140 dB.  According to OSHA, danger of noise exposure begins at 85 dB.  Without proper hearing protection it is very easy to see how someone can lose their hearing if exposed to gun shots on a regular basis.  This includes hunting.  A study completed by the University of Wisconsin (Recreational Firearm Use and Hearing Loss, 2000) found men between 48 and 92 years of age were at a greater risk of high frequency hearing loss.  They also found this risk increased seven percent every five years of hunting completed.  Unfortunately, hearing loss caused by noise exposure often happens gradually and goes unnoticed until the amount of hearing loss becomes significant overall.  As a result of this gradual decline, people often feel they can go without their hearing protection because they do not notice those changes occurring suddenly.


Another reason hunters do not wear hearing protection often enough is because, and I hear it said all the time, “If I wear hearing protection