Hearing aids and noise reduction


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gwine
September 22, 2006, 12:35 PM
I am going to be taking a basic handgun class in early November and I am trying to come up with a solution to my situation. I wear behind the ear hearing aids and have not been successful in using ear muffs while I have them on because of the acoustic feedback I get when putting anything close to my ears. (For that matter even a winter stocking cap is a problem.) I tried one of the Walker hearing protectors without my aids but the sound level is not quite enough for me to hear what's going on around me. Basically I know someone is talking but unless I am looking at them I will miss most of the conversation.

I have gone to an indoor range a couple times with my son and just took my aids off and wore ear plugs and made sure I looked over at him often. There were only 3 of us so I didn't have a lot of distractions. However, during the class I am not so sure this will be the best way to do it.

Anyone here have any recommendations?

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CrisOR
September 22, 2006, 12:54 PM
Would these (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=541841) (Peltor tactical 7S) give you enough amplification if you took your aids out?

Oh, and welcome to The High Road, Gerald!

SOG/MACV
September 22, 2006, 01:03 PM
I agree with CrisOR, give the Peltors a good, hard look.

KD5NRH
September 22, 2006, 01:52 PM
Not sure how they do it up there, but I've seen an instructor down here giving a proficiency test to a guy who was very hard of hearing. The live fire part was done partly by sign and partly by other signals. When they needed to get his attention, they had one of those orange bike flags on the long pole to wave in front of him. Anything orange going downrange meant hold fire, and each of the range folks had an orange rag with some sort of weight in it to toss if they needed him to stop immediately.

Frankly, I think it's a good idea for any range; after a few hundred rounds of the big stuff, it can get hard to hear anything below a mild shout.

gwine
September 22, 2006, 02:06 PM
Just looking at the specs on the Peltor I'm am going to say probably not. My hearing loss is around 90 dB which is quite a bit.

Some of the smaller behind the ear noise supressors might work but you would probably need to make an impression of the ear for a good custom fit, and I have read about this idea.

And thanks for the welcome. I look forward to visiting this site quite often.

BobCat
September 22, 2006, 03:59 PM
Gerald,

Wish I could help - but all I can do is encourage you to find a way to take the class without having to hear anything at all during the range portion. Listen during the classroom part and then plug and cover for the shooting part.

I take my hearing aids out of both ears, put in foam plugs, and add muffs - just to save what little I have left. It is very peaceful, and I believe helps ameliorate any tendency to flinch from the sound.

The guy calling the match knows to tap me on the shoulder or kick my leg (during the prone part of the match) if there is any kind of "cease fire right now" situation.

During recreational shooting, I just keep an eye on the line between strings of fire, and will see anyone who wants a cease-fire to go change targets - just as you said, at the range with your son.

Good luck with your class! I bet the instructor will find a way to make it work, if you explain your concerns beforehand.

Regards,
Andrew

bender
September 22, 2006, 04:26 PM
I have to wear a H.A. also (only one, but I'm completely deaf in the other ear, so a HA won't help that ear). I wear an "in the canal" HA. I don't have much hearing left at all...
I have alot of trouble hearing when I take any kind ofclass or attend any kind of meeting, so I am also worried about it.

Guess I'll do what BobCat suggests... talk to the instructor first...

gwine
September 22, 2006, 09:53 PM
Thanks for the encouragment, Andrew. I have a nerve loss, so like you I don't want to lose any more than I have so far (been wearing them for 48 years). Fortunately I learned to lip-read at an early age so as long as I can see them I can usually follow what's going on. My motto is "turn the lights up, I can't hear you". :D

I'll talk to the instructor when I give him a deposit on the class.

hso
September 23, 2006, 12:15 AM
gwine,

Welcome to THR!

The electronic muffs won't work because they don't amplify enough on their own, but you can't wear them over your behind the ear hearing aids because the feeback with the cup in contact with them, did I get that right?

If so have you tried the less powerful in the ear hearing aids with amplified muffs to combine the volume in hopes of getting rid of the feedback?

Check with your audiologist to find out if they might work together.

.38 Special
September 23, 2006, 12:35 AM
Any instrument that is powerful enough to be of real assistance to a person suffering a profound hearing loss is going to feed back when an object is placed near it. Unfortunately, the combination of ITE with amplified muffs is a recipe for amazing new heights of feedback.

I have some information on custom BTE, ITE and CIC devices designed to amplify AND act as hearing aids, but it is at my office (I'm a hearing aid technician and my wife is the audiologist) and I believe is not any more suited to you than any amplified muff would be. And they're nearly as expensive as regular hearing aids.

One thing that you might try -- and this would be an experiment, because I have not tried it and cannot guarantee the results -- would be to have your audiologist or dispenser order an additional pair of molds for your BTEs. Have a new set of impressions made up to fit as tightly as possible -- open mouth or jaw movement impressions -- and then the molds should be ordered as full sized, "bowl filling" molds as opposed to skeleton or other smaller sized molds. Also, they should be unvented or, at most, pressure vented, and then fitted with #13 "thick" tubes. It seems to me that this should result in fairly decent noise reduction -- you can ask the audiologist for a real ear measurement in the presence of noise to find out for sure -- and shouldn't cost you more than $75. Heck, it occurs to me that Westone might be willing to make up a set of molds in their "hearing protection" material...

Good luck!

.38 Special
September 23, 2006, 12:47 AM
Oh, and Bender, if you are "don't have much hearing left at all" and "have alot of trouble hearing when I take any kind of class or attend any kind of meeting" your ITC is totally inapropriate for you. Check out a full sized "power" BTE.

But I'm betting you already knew that. And I'm also betting you wear the ITC because you think it's less embarrasing to be constantly saying "Huh?" than it is to have people know you're wearing an HA. :p

gwine
September 23, 2006, 01:33 AM
Thanks for the comments, .38 Special. At times I actually turn my ears off in the factory just to cut down on the noise level, but as you say unless the mold fits real snug it would not be sufficient on the range. Even losing a few pounds can mess up the fit.

I wish I still lived in Fort Wayne and could visit my old audiologist. I'll bet he would have some ideas. Just going in to see my audiologist here would cost me $$, even if I just wanted to ask a few questions.

Down the road I definitely want to consider a custom solution, since I plan to become more involved with guns, but right now I'm trying to find an acceptable solution for the short term (the beginner's class).

I'll post down the road if I find a good solution that others might be able to use.

.38 Special
September 23, 2006, 01:43 AM
Unfortunately, the best "easy" idea I'm aware of are the electronic muffs already mentioned. Few if any of these provide more than 20 dB of amplification. I'm not aware of any that can even begin to accomodate a 90 dB loss.

On an unrelated note, any audiologist that charges you for office visists, assuming you purchased aids from him, is a thief and a charlatan.

Oh, and BTW, I ran your problem past my wife the audiologist. She thought about it for several minutes and then said "He's screwed". For what that's worth. :o

gwine
September 23, 2006, 01:55 AM
It's an HMO, hence the "office call" charge. It's only $10, but it's the principle of the thing. I know back in Fort Wayne they wouldn't do that.

An aside. I once blew the speaker cones on a set of headphones because I had to crank up the volume pretty high to hear it. It's truly amazing what my hearing aids can do.

BobCat
September 23, 2006, 07:27 PM
Bender,

Interesting that you are stone deaf on one side - I am too. The deaf side "aid" is just a mic, with a wire to the amp and speaker (and mic for that side), on the side with some hearing left. This kind of rig is called a BICROS and it might help you if you ever sit in a meeting or go to lunch were there is someone on your deaf side. You can't tell where the sound is coming from, but at least the person is "there" - not invisible to your hearing.

These are ITE (in-the-ear) and the wire is kind of conspicuous - but I don't care how it looks, it makes life better.

Gerald,

Since you can lip read, I think you will find plugs+muffs (to save what you've got left) to be the best plan. Make sure the instructor knows the score, and I think the class will go well.

At the match, I know what they are saying, from having read it. So when the guy next to me takes the mag he is holding and puts it up in the mag well, I know the match director just said, "With bolts remaining open, with two or five rounds, load!" and I do it too - and know to turn and look for the targets to come up. You have the benefit of knowing to look for visual clues - 48 years (I've only worn them since 1973, so I'm a relative newbie).

.38 Special,

Cool! Good to know you are on THR - I promise not to bug you with too many questions, but if you happen to know of a real good audiologist in the Houston area, I'd be happy to know about it.

Regards,
Andrew

bender
September 23, 2006, 08:56 PM
on my "good" side, its not really that good. only about half left there...

Due to a motorcycle accident when 25 years old - no helmet, and banged head very hard. Woke up in hospital 3 weeks later. Didn't know why I was there, had to ask. That's when I found out I couldn't hear much anymore...

BobCat
September 25, 2006, 09:18 AM
Bender,

My "good" side is pretty lousy too; not much hearing without the aid on that side, as well as the mic on the dead side. Had surgery on both sides to replace the linkages (ossicles) with little stainless wires. They seized up from disease, not loud noises or head-banging. One side sorta worked, the other sorta worked for a couple years, then quit. Lesson learned: if surgery is elective, decline.

At the range, do you use a plug in your one "working" ear? I don't want to be a nag (I'm nobody's mother) but it is smart to protect what you've got left.

I hope Gerald updates us on how his class went, and what he did in terms of hearing protection / hearing the instructor.

Regards,
Andrew

.38 Special
September 25, 2006, 09:52 PM
So I did some research at work today and learned that Walker's (the "Game Ear" people) offers a muff with 50 dB gain and up to 110 dB peak output. Which is pretty @#$! loud. Looks like retail should be in the $200 range, so might be worth checking out.

And Andrew -- you can bug me with questions, but I'm afraid I don't know anyone in Texas. I'll ask around tomorrow.

gwine
September 26, 2006, 09:47 PM
I'll try to check that one out more. 38. Gander Mountain had a Walker but I'm sure it wasn't the same model because it was only about $135.

.38 Special
September 26, 2006, 09:57 PM
Found 'em on their website. http://www.walkersgameear.com/powermuffs.asp
If you try them I'd be interested to hear from you how well they work.

Andrew -- don't know anybody who can recomend an audiologist in Texas.:(

gwine
September 26, 2006, 10:36 PM
Can do. 38. I'm going to call around the area and see if any store has them in stock to try out.

gwine,

Welcome to THR!

The electronic muffs won't work because they don't amplify enough on their own, but you can't wear them over your behind the ear hearing aids because the feeback with the cup in contact with them, did I get that right?

If so have you tried the less powerful in the ear hearing aids with amplified muffs to combine the volume in hopes of getting rid of the feedback?

Check with your audiologist to find out if they might work together.

Right, hso. Interesting idea, using a less powerful in the ear aid. They are actually borderline usable, so I was told by my audiologist back in Fort Wayne, but the battery life would have been terrible. If the muffs were large enough maybe I could turn the volume waaay down on my behind the ears aids. Don't know why I didn't think of that when I was looking at the Walker's at Gander Mountain.

Of course, I would have to buy a pair on in the ears aids and buy an amplified muff and hope I didn't spend all that money in vain . . .

Ah well, as my son is fond of saying, "it's only money." :rolleyes:

gwine
October 1, 2006, 07:33 PM
I'll try to check that one out more. 38. Gander Mountain had a Walker but I'm sure it wasn't the same model because it was only about $135.

Turns out there was a pair of Power Muffs to check out ($245 !!) and no, they won't work. I can't get them to fit with my hearing aids on because the muffs are too small and don't seal and I can't hear much using just the muffs. Someone standing behind me about 2 feet away is just noise. 50dB gain seems like a lot to you hearing people but I need another 40dB (about 8000 times louder).

I hope Gerald updates us on how his class went, and what he did in terms of hearing protection / hearing the instructor.

Will do, Bobcat. I went to the Janesville gun show yesterday and was hoping to talk to the instructor about my situation but he wasn't there so I'll be talking to him right before the class (which isn't until November).

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