Ear Damage (hearing loss and ringing)


Greg All Calibers
January 4, 2008, 12:34 AM
I have been a member of this forum and the TFL for a long time and have been handling firearms for over 30 years. On Dec 18th 2007 I fired my beloved S&W 642 once with a Golden Saber +P load and accidentally left my ear protection on the bench. Indoor range. Next to a wall on my left. My left ear got most of it. I have never done that before.

It is now 3 weeks later. Went to an ENT doctor today, took a hearing test. I am 20-40dB down on all frequencies above 4kHz. I have significant ringing (tinnitus) in my left ear. It is very uncomfortable.

He said the hearing damage is likely permanent. The tinnitus may or may not subside, but will probably be there for life as well. I was prescribed the steroid Medrol which can reduce the ringing in some people. My tampanic membrane (eardrum) is not ruptured.

Firearms are an important hobby of mine. I am sorry if this is off-topic, but I am seeking any feedback (good or bad) about anyone else that has been in this situation. I am seeking advice from my fellow shooters in a time of need.

Thank you. Greg

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January 4, 2008, 12:46 AM
I have the damn ringing in my ears. All the time. Please using hearing protection..........It ain't no fun. :(

January 4, 2008, 01:00 AM
I have tinnitus in my left ear which has been ringing and hissing since 1980. There isn't much you can do about it. Stress will make it worse...when my father was dying my ear was ringing so loud it almost drove me crazy. It helps to have background noise which helps mask the ringing. Try getting one of those machines that has nature sounds...forest, seaside, creek, etc. Keep it on at night when you're trying to go to sleep. It will help keep your brain from focusing on the tinnitus.

January 4, 2008, 01:06 AM
Well, it is a sad story, but some (most) loud and intense sound caused hearing loss is very permanent. The nerve endings in the cochlea of the inner ear are like a tiny forest. If you have ever seen a photo of the forest areas around Mt. Saint Helens, in Washington state, after the eruption - that is a representation of your nerve endings. Certain frequencies will be permanently missing or distorted, because the nerve endings are destroyed, and can no longer pick up the sound vibrations. I lost a large part of my hearing in the Coast Guard, way too many years ago, from accidental firings of 5"/38, anti submarine rockets (Hedge Hog) and that infernal steam whistle in fog! No hearing protection was then used at the firing ranges, when qualifying with 1911 and M1, either. We are fortunate nowadays, that there are some superior hearing aids to help, but it never replaces normal hearing. The hearing and eye protection routine at a practice shooting event is a must, can't recommend it highly enough. The same types of hearing problems are being acquired by our youth, with boom boxes and MP3 units turned too high. And the tinnitus - I have had a whole bee hive buzzing around my head since I left my sea duty back in the 50's.
Semper Paratus (also)

January 4, 2008, 01:07 AM
I grew up hunting when nobody used any hearing protection. I remember that first shot (shotgun, usually) and how much my ears would ring after that. The subsequent shots didn't seem so loud.

Dove hunting was the worst. Lots of shooting. Squirrel hunting was pretty bad, too. Ditto quail.

Now I've got constant ringing. Stress and caffeine aggravate it.

I post this info frequently.

Facts on noise levels:

Gradual hearing loss may occur after prolonged exposure to 90 decibels or above.

Exposure to 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can cause hearing loss.

Exposure to 110 decibels for more than a minute can cause permanent hearing loss.

At 140 dBA noise causes immediate injury to almost any unprotected ear.

There is also the more extreme ‘acoustic trauma’, which is an immediate loss of hearing after a sudden, exceptionally loud noise such as an explosion.

From: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu...aring-loss.cfm

“When someone goes to a concert, cuts grass or runs a power saw, they can suffer from NIHL,” said Dr. George Hashisaki, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Virginia Health System. “Afterwards, if their hearing is muffled or their ears are ringing, they have suffered NIHL. Even if their hearing comes back to what they perceive as normal, a small part of that hearing loss is permanent."

"People who are most in jeopardy of losing their hearing are those who use firearms regularly without ear protection or who are in the military and unable to wear hearing protection, such as those on the frontlines, Hashisaki said. The noise level of gunshots can reach 170 dB and is capable of immediate damage. Hashisaki recommends wearing both earplugs and earmuffs to protect hearing while target shooting."

Comparative noise levels for specified length of time and corresponding damage

12 gauge shotgun 165 dB Instant damage
Jet engine taking off 140 dB Instant damage
Thunder/Ambulance siren 119 dB 3 minutes
Hammer drill 113 dB 15 minutes
Chain saw/Earphones/Concert 110 dB 30 minutes
Bull Dozer 105 dB 1 hour
Tractor/Power tools 96 dB 4 hour
Hairdryer/lawnmower 90 dB 8 hours

Here are some examples of noise levels:

Video arcades - (110 dB).

Firecrackers - (125-155 dB at a distance of 10 feet).

Live music concerts - (120 dB and above).

Movie theatres - (118 dB).

Health clubs and aerobic studios (120 dB).

Sporting events (127 dB).

Motorboats - (85-115 dB).

Motorcycles - (95-120 dB).

Snowmobiles - (99 dB).

"Boom cars" - (140 dB and above).

Here are noise levels of firearms:

.223, 55GR. Commercial load 18" barrel 155.5dB

.243 in 22" barrel 155.9dB

.30-30 in 20" barrel 156.0dB.

7mm Magnum in 20" barrel 157.5dB.

.308 in 24" barrel 156.2dB.

.30-06 in 24" barrel 158.5dB. In 18" barrel 163.2dB.

.375 18" barrel with muzzle brake 170 dB.

.410 Bore 28" barrel 150dB. 26" barrel 150.25dB. 18" barrel 156.30dB.

20 Gauge 28" barrel 152.50dB. 22" barrel 154.75dB.

12 Gauge 28" barrel 151.50dB. 26" barrel 156.10dB. 18" barrel 161.50dB.

.25 ACP 155.0 dB.

.32 LONG 152.4 dB.

.32 ACP 153.5 dB.

.380 157.7 dB.

9mm 159.8 dB.

.38 S&W 153.5 dB.

.38 Spl 156.3 dB.

.357 Magnum 164.3 dB.

.41 Magnum 163.2 dB.

.44 Spl 155.9 dB.

.45 ACP 157.0 dB.

.45 COLT 154.7 dB.


Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.

All of us should be trying to get the greatest Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that can be put together. NRR 30 plugs with NRR 20 muffs will give you an effective NRR 45 (add plugs and muffs, then subtract 5). If noise levels are 160 dB this gives you an exposure with plugs and muffs of 115 dB. The acceptable exposure time for this is 15 minutes total for the day. If the noise levels are 150 dB the resultant acceptable exposure time with the given plugs and muffs is 1 hour and 4 hours if the noise level is 140 dB. You're not going to find unsuppressed noise levels below 140dB with gunfire.

(Note: some question the credibility of the above formula. They say instead you take the higher of the two and add 5 dB to that. 30 plug with 20 muff gives an effective NRR of 35 not 45.)

If you are shooting by yourself, roughly 100 rounds of 140 dB instantaneous noise in a day should not produce hearing damage. Put your plugs and muffs on and you get to shoot up to a thousand rounds without damage (louder ammo/gun and the allowable drops by a factor of 5). Shoot with other people and you have to add all the rounds shot cumulatively (10 people shoot 100 rounds and everybody's done for the day; toss a handcannon or 30 cal rifle in and you're back down to 200 rounds cumulative). If you shoot on an indoor range then all the rounds fired while you are on the range go into your total. So you can see that it doesn't take very long on a range to have a thousand rounds popped off around you.



January 4, 2008, 01:12 AM
i have permanent hearing damage from standing too close to speakers at the many concerts i attended in my younger years... it is a very real thing and shouldnt ever be taken for granted...

January 4, 2008, 02:05 AM
Yeah, I'm 18 yet I've occasionally noticed a slight ringing in my ears when it gets real quiet.
Maybe I should cut back from my twice a week trip to the range.

January 4, 2008, 03:16 AM
I am 42 years old and I damaged my ears with gunfire when I was 14 (sneaked my dad's favorite target pistol out for a test shoot when he wasn't home and shot w/o ear protection). It's been 28 years and I still only have 60% of my hearing and constant ringing. They are ringing really bad right now and sometimes they ring so bad I can't concentrate or understand the person talking to me in the same room or on the phone.

It has almost been 3 decades now and there has not been one single minute since that day that my ears have not been ringing.

January 4, 2008, 03:26 AM
Indoor range is the last place you want to be without hearing protection. Indoors, I always double up and use in ear plugs with the over ear muffs.

January 4, 2008, 03:35 AM
Yikes!! I'm in a similar boat, mild (thankfully) tinnitus and moderate high frequency hearing loss. It's very difficult for me to understand someone talking to me when there is a lot of background noise of any kind.

Mine didn't come from shooting though. I was a semi-professional percussionist with a focus on marching band. I played in and instructed various marching percussion ensembles for fifteen years. Basically, I was exposed to ~100db for several hours per day over a long period. It comes up to about 300% of the OSHA-approved exposure.

FWIW, here's a link to an interesting paper on this (not my paper). http://www.acoustics.org/press/150th/Keefe.html

I was young, stupid, and thought hearing protection was "sissy."

That was dumb. I'm much more careful now, but have accidentally taken shots without protection a couple of times, thankfully not at in indoor range though.

pete f
January 4, 2008, 04:01 AM
Look up and get an order of the Navy Hearing pill. its not a joke, but a tested and proven way to improve damaged ears and soften the damage than can occur, I take it and the TV used to sit at 29 or 30 for me to hear it, and now its down to 22 -23.

January 4, 2008, 04:33 AM
Until here and now, I've never heard a group in unison tell about this trouble.
At work, I use hearing protection with fair discretion.
Would you believe I have co-workers who are invinceable?
Should copy this thread and hang it on the water cooler.
Ones experience may be anothers lesson.

January 4, 2008, 06:07 AM
Huh?What?Sorry didn't get that. :D Always wear your "ears" My hearing is bad from many years of working on road crews for major touring bands back in the 80's and 90's.
Oddly enough, I always have and will wear hearing protection while at the range, I just wasn't thinking about it when I was in a giant concert venue 10-15 times per month.

Standing Wolf
January 4, 2008, 06:18 AM
He said the hearing damage is likely permanent. The tinnitus may or may not subside, but will probably be there for life as well.

Sad to say, you'll get used to it in due time.

January 4, 2008, 07:36 AM
Tinnitis is one of the biggest reasons that suppressors should not be regulated under the NFA. A lot of hearing loss would be prevented if hunters were encouraged to put a suppressor on their hunting rifles. Fortunately I hunt in a state where doing so is legal, but it's not cheap to do so (the can cost more than the rifle).

January 4, 2008, 07:44 AM
All too true. I can hear the hissing in my left right now.

January 4, 2008, 08:20 AM
Greg, I can't offer any advice. I'm sorry. I'm also sorry for your experience, and pray that you will find some relief from the ringing.

But I also thank you for the reminder that the gift of hearing is precious and we need to protect it.

I once fired a T/C Contender in .35 Remington with a ported barrel ONE TIME in the field. My ears rang for three days. That was on a Friday. The following Monday I bought a set of Peltor Tac-7s that I now wear whenever hunting with a handgun. I thank God that in my case, the ringing went away and my last hearing test showed only the hearing loss expected as we age. It could have been a lot worse.

God bless.

January 4, 2008, 08:32 AM
Greg All Calibers,

We've discussed hearing protection issues several times so your post is very much on topic and your experience should serve as a warning for all of us to wear plugs and muffs at any time we're on the range or around shooting.

I suffer from tinnitus (I "hear" the ringing right now.) also. You might have your ENT refer you to a hearing and speech pathologist, more specialized than ENTs who mostly deal with stuffy noses, and see if the hearing specialist has any advice.

Steroids are a standard treatment, but should have been started right away for greatest benefit.

Unsurprisingly, the military has a huge problem with hearing damage and they've put a lot of money into research in prevention and treatment. The last time I looked, they don't have much more than prompt steroid treatment.

Use plugs and electronic muffs from hear on out and preserve the hearing you have left.

Grizzly Adams
January 4, 2008, 10:21 AM
I've had ringing for years. Between shooting, working on a flight line, and loud music I guess I'm lucky I have any hearing left.

Always wear hearing protection! Even when shooting .22s.

For you younger shooters, believe it or not they can be the worst on your hearing.

January 4, 2008, 10:24 AM
I feel bad for you Greg... especially after only one shot...
and seeing your hearing protection lying on the bench afterward. :banghead:

I have Pulsatile Tinnitus... I hear my own blood flowing about 25% ot the day.
woosch, woosch, woosch
Its really annoying, I don't know why I have it, and 3 ENT's have been no help.

I wouldn't wish any form of Tinnitus on my worst enemy.

Needless to say, I don't want another form of Tinnitus on top of it!
Double layers of hearing protection for me... always.

January 4, 2008, 10:26 AM
I vote for a tack. The anecdotal story and Harmonic's post make this worthy.

January 4, 2008, 11:24 AM
He said the hearing damage is likely permanent. The tinnitus may or may not subside, but will probably be there for life as well.
Sad to say, you'll get used to it in due time.

I hate to disagree, but you never get use to it. As I sat here and read this the ringing has come back to forefront of my mind. You learn to push it back, you learn to ignore, but you never get use to it.
This is the one thing I wish I could convince everyone on the need for proper hearing protection. When I go to the range to shoot, I always wear form ear protectors with ear muffs over that. I hope everyone will do the same.
We can describe, we can try to "paint a mental image", but unless you are cursed with this you will never understand.

January 4, 2008, 02:16 PM
A few years ago I developed tinnitus in my left ear. At first I thought I was going to go crazy and my case is not as bad as it could be. I found that the sound of water running hides the tinnitus. I have gotten used to it and much of the time I don't notice the ringing. I really notice now due to this topic! Thanks! :)

Growing up I never used any hearing protection. The biggest firearm I shot regularly was a .22 rifle. I wouldn't be surprised if my tinnitus comes from a few days plowing (helping a friend) using an old John Deere 2-cylinder "Popping Johnny"! That was one loud tractor!!

I've been shooting pistols and rifles heavy since 1996 and I've worn hearing protection from that point on.


January 4, 2008, 02:18 PM
Mild tinnitus in my left ear from a .44Special round -- outdoors! That was several years ago, so I'd say it is permanent. I always take steps to protect my hearing.

January 4, 2008, 03:00 PM
I believe my hearing loss is both hereditary and helped along by not wearing noise reduction gear while working. The hereditary part stems from the fact that my dad and his brother both lost their hearing when they were approx. 60 years of age. My uncle eventually went completely deaf while my dad (he's 89 now) still has some hearing with the help of analog hearing aids.
I'll be 66 yrs old in a couple days and I have gone through the analog hearing aids and am now using the digital completly in the canal hearing aids.
It's difficult to shoot while wearing the devices so I generally double up with the foam plugs and the "mickeymouse ears".
Solid advice to all the young and not so young---if you work or play in a noisey environment----protect your hearing.

January 4, 2008, 03:13 PM
My Brother-in-Law was sighting in his deer rifle this year, shot it once without any ear protection, and has lost all hearing in his right ear. He was just fitted with a $7000.00 hearing aid for his left ear. Now he knew he had some hearing loss anyway, but he said as soon as he shot the rifle, he heard a loud ringing and a sharp pain in his right ear. Thats when it went. He just retired and is down to one ear and a hearing aid to boot. (I did not know that hearing devices cost so much money). Please wear hearing protection when shooting

January 4, 2008, 03:40 PM
8 years shooting 155mm Artillery pieces in the Army has taken 40% of my hearing and left me with tinnitis. As was stated before in this post i wouldn't wish this ringing in my ears on my worst enemy. Having to have the drive through teller repeat crad three or four times gets annoying to.

I never shoot anymore without some sort of hearing protection.

January 4, 2008, 04:25 PM
Oh yeah.. since I was 8 I've had the same ring from firing a .22LR pistol without hearing protection. I remember the shots. I could only fire three before it was too painful for me to keep my gun up. The concussion wasn't like I'd expected it to be, it compounded rather than just repeat the same.. Each shot got was like being punched in the eardrum twice as hard each time. After that..

In a quiet room, it sounds like the loudest thing in the world.

I find it to be useful every now and then for counteracting my ADD when I'm in a classroom environment. Never been a big fan of enclosed rooms full of sick people and hours of awkward silence so it helps me focus on something consistent.

Smokey Joe
January 4, 2008, 05:04 PM
Pete F--Look up and get an order of the Navy Hearing pill. its not a joke, but a tested and proven way to improve damaged ears Could you please give a little more detail on this? It's the first I've ever heard of something that could (?) actually help damaged hearing.

My exposure to loud sounds is different--Besides having been a shooter since my teens, I refereed soccer for several summers, back when I had knees that could run. In addition to the soccer ref's usual black shirt and shorts, I wore a football ref's black baseball cap to keep sun out of my eyes--guess who got the greatest "benefit" from my Acme Thunderer??!!! After 3-4 games of soccer on a Sat, my ears would ring loudly until about the following Wed, then settle down to my "normal" ringing.

I sure as heck WOULD wish tinnitis on my worst enemy. He deserves it.

January 4, 2008, 05:13 PM
I dont know when or where I got tinnitis. Ive never been to a doctor about it... I can only assume that the permanent ringing in my ears is the same things. It may have been in the USMC with all the range time (although I always wore those crappy earplugs). Maybe blanks. Maybe the occasional rock concert as a child. Im not really sure. All I know is the ringing has never gone away and has been ringing for years.

January 4, 2008, 05:19 PM
I went to a Curtis Salgado concert in the Ballard Firehouse in the early 90's. My ears have been ringing ever since. I don't mind the hearing loss as much as the ringing. To me it sounds like high speed dental drills in my ears. I remember it was so loud that I tore off cigarette butts and stuck them in my ears. I was stupid. I should have left. Should I have sued the Ballard Firehouse or Curtis Sagado? Strange thing is my wife had ringing for about 24hrs but then it went away. I feel bad for the employees there.

There is a website dedicated to tinitus but they say there is no real treatment except for the MP3 player and/or whitenoise. Some doctors say a hearing aid can help. My GP thought that was BS but my ENT said it could help. I think in the next ten or twenty years they will be able to treat it. They need to turn off the cells that are damaged and causing the ringing.

Many people take valium. Sometimes you can't treat something so you just make your brain so it doesn't care.


January 4, 2008, 06:38 PM
After years of working around noise and some, thankfully not a lot, of shooting without ear protection in my youth, I have some tinnitus. It is sometimes and faint in my left ear, but much more often and varied in my right ear. Some nights when it is quite it is very annoying and you just hope it is not here to stay and will mostly tone way back down like it usually does. It seems like stress makes it worse or if my sinuses are real clogged up.

Bottom line. Wear ear protection, and that means at work as well when you are in high noise areas. Time subjected to noise as well as the severity all adds up over time. All the old timers I know who worked in mills or other places where they were around loud but not necessarily "hurting" type noises are all dang near deaf now. I'm not far behind. :(

January 4, 2008, 09:44 PM
NRR 30 plugs with NRR 20 muffs will give you an effective NRR 45 (add plugs and muffs, then subtract 5).
Fwiw according to OSHA, it doesn't work this way. The OSHA guideline is that you get to add 5dB of NRR to the highest rated protection device with the addition of a second one. For example wearing plugs rated 33nrr and muffs rated 30nrr give a total nrr of 38dB.

January 4, 2008, 09:57 PM
I have mild ringing in the ears from time to time. I tragically know lots of people who have suffered hearing loss - myself included. Most of it was preventable with the exception of my girlfriend's brother who got an eardrum blown out by an IED in Iraq.

Loud music/concerts, shooting, and power tools are the usual causes. I have worn earplugs at live shows now for 15+ years now, but I think the damage had been done 20+ years ago. I have always used ear protection for shooting, and always keep extra plugs for someone else who may need them.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to hearing loss.

January 4, 2008, 10:33 PM
Greg - Did the doc tell you to avoid ALL loud noises for the next two or three months ?

I had an industrial accident many years ago and the ear doc told me to do everything possible to minimize my noise environment for the next couple of months. That this MIGHT help your ear recover a little bit.

My ear measured a little better a year later. I don't know if trying to minimize the noise helped or not.

You might ask him soon if you can. There's not much out there to help, anything that can minimize the damage is a good thing.

Greg All Calibers
January 9, 2008, 08:01 PM
Thanks for the encouraging words. I did check with the doctors again and another hearing test verified I am up to 40dB lower in frequencies over 4kHz. Feels like my ear is numb and very full. The ringing (tinnitus) comes and goes.

I attached the hearing test results.

- I am avoiding loud sounds
- The doctor prescribed a Medrol pack (steriod). This helps some people.
- I am trying the Navy Pill as one poster suggested.

Rgds, Greg

January 9, 2008, 08:12 PM
I've shot alot w/o my ears in and they only ring for a bit when Im at the range but it goes away after a bit. On about a par with the volume turned up all the way on my ipod.

January 9, 2008, 10:10 PM
When i was 17 a kid threw a water ballon at me and hit my right ear. It blew out my eardrum. I have almost no hearing in that ear. Both ears ring and squeal constantly.

I have read that reducing your caffene intake and staying away from aspirins will help. That is the end of my advice.

January 9, 2008, 11:25 PM
Grew up shooting a lot - no hearing protection.
Millions of firecrackers as a kid.
Screming motorcycle's
Tools, engines, the normal stuff of boys and young men.
Loud music

30 years in the oilfield - screaming engines, compressors, high pressure gas flowing,etc.

Tinnitus - the dayum ringing is there 24/7

There is no cure from all of the doctors and research I have done.

Let he who can still hear - Take care of your hearing - you are not special and will damage your hearing.

January 9, 2008, 11:31 PM
I m 17 and have hearing lose in my lift ear and ringing that will not stop. i always wore ear protection.
Now I have muff and plugs hope they work better then just the old plugs

January 9, 2008, 11:40 PM
I just had my hearing test today. I am 50 dB down in my left ear and only slightly better in my right. High range frequency loss is typical of gunshot and other sudden noise damage. While I almost always wear hearing protectors, I don't while hunting and didn't when young. Time spent as an Infantry officer probably didn't help.

I only have very occasional ringing, but I have trouble hearing some peoples' voices and certain words and phonemes. I'll be getting a digital hearing aid for my left ear - to the tune of about $1300.

BTW, I am 45. The tester told me she is seeing lots of 20 somethings - mostly male - who are showing significant hearing loss thanks to loud music. Something to think about for all you youngsters.

January 9, 2008, 11:45 PM
My hearing loss is both hereditary and idiocy. While my family suffers from nerve deafness, I also used firearms without hearing protection as a kid and young adult. Luckily, as a kid at least, it was both .22 rifles and outside with a lot of land around me. Some, but very little range time was involved. (outdoor, but close quarters:uhoh:) And firecrackers were always a part of my childhood, also, along with a Sonic Blaster (~140dB). Now, I miss the hearing I destroyed, and cherish the hearing I have left. I wonder what a Magnaported .45-70 Contender measures. Too much for me, in more ways than one, in a indoor range for sure. I use plugs of 35dB NRR and muffs of 29dB NRR at all times of shooting and must wear plugs at work, also. An annual hearing test shows that I haven't abnormally lost any hearing since my baseline in this building in 1997. Once it was somewhat improved over previous years, so apparantly, you can regain small amounts of hearing. Tinnitus, however, is an annoying part of my life for the last 20 or so years, though, as was said, comes and goes in intensity. Plugs and muffs, I can't stress that enough. Though I wish I had taken my own advice 40 years ago.

January 9, 2008, 11:52 PM
Soybomb is correct. Adding the NRR of plugs and muffs and then subtracting 5dB to get an effective NRR is out of date advice (I should know, since it was the rule of thumb we used for years until the maxNRR+5 rule of thumb came out).

Remember that ear plugs must fit well down into the ear canal to be effective and that muffs must be in good condition.

Try to wear shooting glasses with wire ear pieces or with straps instead of the more common large plastic ear pieces. Wear your ear muffs the way they were designed to be worn. If they are over-the-head or behind-the-head types then only wear them that way. Keep cap and hat material out from under the ear pads. The pads should fit against your head without sandwiching ear or material between the pad and your head.

The U.S. military does not have a pill to treat hearing loss. In other words, there is no "Navy Pill". If there was the company that produced it would be advertising it all over the place. Current treatments involve the use of steroids.

January 10, 2008, 01:38 AM
Fwiw according to OSHA, it doesn't work this way.

You need to read the entire article instead of concentrating on the first thing with which you disagree.

Next paragraph, (Note: some question the credibility of the above formula. They say instead you take the higher of the two and add 5 dB to that. 30 plug with 20 muff gives an effective NRR of 35 not 45.)

Big Boomer
January 10, 2008, 02:19 AM
Welcome to the club! :p Not really...

It SUCKS to have hearing loss, I have permanent tinnitus as well have had it since about 16 when I did not know what hearing protection was at all.

I'm legally deaf, whatever that means. I have like 95% loss in one ear and 93% in another (don't remember which is which).

I can't afford hearing aids, and they tell me that they most likely won't help that much anyhow.

I can't hear cell phones ring, birds chirp, flutes play (or most instruments of a higher octave), scary one is smoke detectors don't exist in my life, most any alarm, creaking, clicking, squeaking things. It's a pretty quiet life...oh if it weren't for that damn ringing! It's like someone put a firecracker to your ear and the ringing just never stopped. Some days it's so bad it'll drive you mad, others you don't really notice it's there until you think about it (like now).

I hope that yours is able to repair itself but you never know what it's like till it's gone. Music is bland, no crickets or frogs singing their melody at night (my wife has to tell me about it when we sit on the porch), the sound of the wind rustling through the tree's, the sound of raindrops pitter patting on the roof or the light splashing sounds they make on the ground. All these things just a memory to me, I am not sure If I even remember them right.

It's sort of like trying to remember the voice of a long lost loved one, remembering their voice but thinking that it's just not quite right but never being able to hear it again.

The sounds of fingers against the sheets, or the sizzle of the grill while you cook, these are just a few small things that you will miss. I have to say one of the biggest losses is not being able to hear the birds chirp on a beautiful spring day. You walk outside and see movement and life all around but it's just mostly silent almost like being a living ghost knowing something is missing.

Hunting takes on a new meaning when you are trying to stalk prey and your buddy is yelling at you to be quiet and you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about! The cracking of twigs beneath your feet, the rustle of branches against your clothing, only the sound of your own breathing is what is heard in your ears.

Life goes on, yes, but it's so much sweeter with sound! Wear your hearing protection, double up! Do your friends a favor make them wear them as well, even if it's out on a hunt.

oklahoma caveman
January 10, 2008, 11:23 AM
most young people think it cant or wont happen to them.iv been shooting since i aws 6yr old. actively hunting for the family since 8. im 21 now and already have a permanent ringing

January 10, 2008, 11:58 AM
"(I did not know that hearing devices cost so much money)"

All of them don't. My father just paid cash for 2 behind-the-ear units and paid right at $1600 for the pair. These are analog units that can provide the massive amplification that he requires and he bought them from a qualified/trained/certified/licensed/etc. outfit and not one of the joints that have the terrible reputations.

His nearly 10-year-old digital units with considerably more tunable frequencies, but not as much amplification, cost him about $4000/pair. And they produced a more natural sound than the B-T-Ear units.

Yes, they're expensive, but there are options depending on what you need and what you can afford.


January 10, 2008, 12:04 PM
When I was young, my dad was fieldstripping his gun or something and I guess he fired the gun, I was sitting on the couch next to him at the time in the house. He shot a hole through the ceiling and my ears were ringing like crazy. That was about 13 years ago.

Also when I learned to first shoot a handgun, that was out on the range in 2005 and I didn't wear earplugs, my ears were ringing. Now I always wear earplugs

I still hear a slight ringing and my hearing has certainly become worse when it's really quiet. Sometimes have to have someone repeat something. It was my own fault for being stupid but now I will preserve what hearing I have left by wearing ear muffs.

Smokey Joe
January 10, 2008, 01:19 PM
Big Boomer--You nailed it. And so poignantly--I hope all our young "immortal" members pay attention to what you wrote! Nice work--I wish you didn't have the necessary experience to write it, but what is, is.

C'mon, Darth Bauer, read the other posts from members whose ringing did not "just go away!!" Yours won't go away either.

I know, I know, kids are kids, and youth is wasted on the young. There was a time when I thought nothing could possibly get me, too.

One more time: Young Guys, this is The Voice Of Experience. This is Your Own Future Talking here: HEARING LOSS IS GRADUAL, CUMULATIVE, AND INCURABLE. Was that loud enough to get past your I-pod???

January 10, 2008, 02:02 PM
It doesn't come back. Ever. If you have ever shot without hearing protection - even a .22 - and have ringing you have damaged your ears.

Imagine banging your thumb every day with a hammer. The first one sucks, the rest aren't so bad because it is already numb. But the damage DOES continue to get worse.

For me it's not the birds and crickets and treefrogs. It is the near impossibility to hear people's voices clearly. NObody ever speaks clearly. Everyone mumbles. I tell loved ones all the time "I can't listen any harder... can you PLEASE speak a little louder?". Then they yell. And I feel like a total schmuck.

People tell me to be quiet it movie theaters and restaurants. If I go out to dinner at a restaurant I am always very aware of where I must sit depending on who I want to hear, because I can't hear everyone.

And hearing aids are not a choice yet. First they are prohibitively expensive and my ENT has told me I won't benefit fully from them. I am right on the borderline of them being useful. Not to say I will even like them. I know quite a few fellahs who got them and then don't use them because of the noise.... the background noise to offensive and it hurts and they STILL can't hear where they want to most - in that range of the human voice.

Ironic, isn't it? That range that is most important is where we lose the most and loud noises really hurt bad.

Use electronics when hunting. Heck I keep a foam pair around my neck. I just won't shoot unless I have something in or on. Don't be a schmuck like me. Double up.

January 10, 2008, 02:12 PM
Yeah, I'm 18 yet I've occasionally noticed a slight ringing in my ears when it gets real quiet.
Maybe I should cut back from my twice a week trip to the range.
Wear good plugs in combination with good muffs, and you'll be fine. I'm 37 with excellent hearing, and I've been shooting for well over 20 years.

The other thing that can really screw up your hearing is lots of listening to music at high volume via headphones. Good nutrition and rest (and some periods of peace and quiet) can help mitigate damage as well. Some studies have also shown that the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine ("NAC" at GNC or other health-food stores) can help prevent damage to the cells of the cochlea.

January 10, 2008, 02:14 PM
If someone doesn't like hearing aids it is probably (a) too much pride to wear them, (b) they don't fit correctly, or (c) they are the wrong kind. When I buy hearing aids, I buy the best there is. I only buy one (usually right ear so car wind noise from the window isn't a factor). The latest digital HA's compensate for all kinds of background sounds, automatically adjust sound levels, and can be programmed to boost or suppress specific frequency bands.

You can get demo HA's. Give them a try. They also help (in many cases) with tinnitus. Mine disappeared when I started wearing HA's.

January 10, 2008, 02:42 PM
I've been working in health and safety for over 15 years. The old NRRA+NRRB-5dB rule is no longer used by the profession. This is not a debate in our field, it simply is recognized as wrong. The current rule of thumb of NRRmax+5dB is now under debate (actually the whole NRR measurement is under debate), but until something else is agreed upon it's what we have to work with.

Regardless what evolves in the debate on measuring hearing protective equipment, the one rule of thumb we all need to follow is to wear earplugs properly under properly worn muffs while near shooting if you want to preserve your hearing.

January 10, 2008, 02:45 PM
-terry... how much do these 'best there is' hearing aids cost?

January 10, 2008, 03:24 PM
I have terrrible tinnitis in my left ear and moderate in my right. I think the majority of the damage causing the tinnitis was from when I used to take excedrine headache medicine regularly. I found out that if taken regularly it eroded the myelin sheath of the auditory nerves and causes tinnitis.

It doesn't bother me as much as it bothers my wife. I constantly asking "whadya say?" everytime she tells me to do something (although I think I exagerate the extent of the condition to get out of some of the honeydo list)!;)

January 10, 2008, 04:01 PM
I was 18 (now 59 and soon-to-be-60) and shooting my '03-A3 at an outdoor range. We were instructed to stop firing so we could go out to check or change our targets. I regret removing my ear protection, because someone to my left fired (after the STOP order) one round of black powder rifle. The ringing started and has been my constant companion ever since. And, of course, I lost my high-end hearing.

For the past five years I've worn a hearing-aid like device that boosts high end sounds and does some masking of the whooshing/ringing. Without the aid, it's at times difficult to hear others speak when at a social gathering. It even helps when at the movie theater.

This isn't mine, but mine looks like this one because it's the same design type (post auricular canal):


Ironically, I left mine at home by today, but if you go to an ENT, you can find out all about them.

Sadly, as others have said, the damage is permanent.

January 10, 2008, 05:58 PM
I have tinnitus from running a Rigid power vice (I used to thread pipe) and from running power tools, especially from a compound mitre saw... I'm 32 today..

January 10, 2008, 09:56 PM
Protect your hearing!! I am deaf myself, I was born that way. Even so, I still wear my earplugs/muffs... I do hear the higher end calibers I'd say over 120db I can hear but anything below that? nope. The very little I have left, I'd like to keep so... Double up guys.. This really needs to be enforced with the younger ones these days becuase they don't really understand/belief that this can happen to them.

January 11, 2008, 12:03 AM
Mine usually run between 1000 and 1300 each.

.38 Special
January 11, 2008, 12:59 AM
My wife is a doctor of audiology and I am a "hearing instrument specialist", so I might be able to provide a bit of insight.

Most hearing loss is permanent, as is the bulk of tinnitus. The ear does have some healing capability though, so it's not perfectly fair to say that the OP's recent loss is definitely incurable. It's true that the only effective medical treatment at this point is early steroids, but the OP won't really know what he's stuck with until at least several months have gone by. The tinnitus, in particular, can very possibly improve over the next few months.

As for the treatment of established tinnitus, there isn't any, at least not in the form of a pill or surgery. We're still stuck with A) counseling -- which essentially amounts to training the sufferer to pay it no mind -- and B) masking agents, which can be as simple as running a fan or white noise generator at night, or as complex as hearing aids or in-ear white noise generators. These treatments meet with mixed results -- some people can indeed manage or even ignore tinnitus with fair success, and I am one of them. Other people are overwhelmed by it, and there are, in fact, tinnitus-related suicides. So tinnitus can't be covered by a single blanket statement.

Now, if there is a positive side to the OPs case, it is that the bulk of human communication takes place between 500 and 4000 hertz, so a loss that is primarily above 4000 hertz should not be devastating. Unfortunately, the sort of nerve damage that he is suffering can have more insidious effects that just a decrease in perceived volume. "The sound is loud enough, but I still have trouble making out the words" is a common complaint among hearing aid users that suffer from this type (sensorineural) of hearing loss. I explain it to patients as "Think of a cable connecting a computer to a monitor. If the cable is damaged, it doesn't matter how well your monitor is working: some of the information still isn't going to make it to the screen".

As for the cost of hearing aids, good digital instruments tend to start at about $2500/pair and peak at around $7000/pair. I personally would stay away from analog instruments, even if they are fitted by a licensed professional. They provide an unnatural sound and very limited adjustability. Imagine a laptop that is programmed via screwdriver, and you'll actually have a pretty accurate idea of what analog hearing aids are about. They are cheap, though...


.38 Special
January 11, 2008, 01:11 AM
Oh, and as for the "Navy Hearing Pill", so far it's a good solid "maybe". Research indicates that antioxidants, including N-acetylcysteine (the active ingredient in the pill) may have some healing and protective qualities, but the jury is still out. At worst, it's probably harmless, although overdose can definitely do bad things to your blood pressure. At best, it might be a substantial help.

January 11, 2008, 10:52 AM
Greg this is a good thread and sorry to hear about your delimma. I also have the ringing and have had it for years. I quess I have just learned to live with it. I am 41 and when I was young, nobody wore hearing protection while shooting shotguns and .22 rifles. Now I wouldn't even consider shooting without hearing protection. I damaged mine in many ways such as shooting, loud rock-n-roll played on powerful stereo systems, driving a soft top jeep with mud tires on pavement, a loud job, etc. Most people take their hearing for granted until it is too late. We all need to help stress the importance of hearing protection to new shooters!

Greg All Calibers
October 6, 2008, 08:08 PM
I am the original poster. It's been almost a year and the tinnitus is still very loud. I have been to neuro-audiologists, ENTs, and other specialized medical doctors.

There is no cure.

If anyone has advice for me, I am willing to listen. Stress and salt make it worse. Flying also makes it worse.

Please take care of your hearing.

.38 Special
October 6, 2008, 08:21 PM

At this point, counseling/retraining/biofeedback (a fancy version of "Ignore it") is one step. Another is a masking device, which can be worn in-ear if the tinnitus bothers you during the day, or an external device if it only troubles you while trying to sleep. You can do the "water test" to see if masking is a good solution for you: simply turn on a faucet full blast and see if you can still hear the tinnitus. If not, a masker will work well.

Your audiologist is the best bet for an in-ear device. There are some available over-the-counter -- the Sleep-Eze brand is one I am familiar with -- but they are rarely comfortable enough for all day wear.

And be careful with what you've got left -- there are studies indicating that damaged ears are more susceptible to further damage.

October 6, 2008, 08:26 PM
Welcome to the club. Making silencers easier to aquire would be saving future generations from this plague.

October 6, 2008, 08:50 PM
I hate to disagree, but you never get use to it. As I sat here and read this the ringing has come back to forefront of my mind. You learn to push it back, you learn to ignore, but you never get use to it.

Couldn't agree more. I'm 28 and I've been dealing with this for around 9 years or so. It SUCKS!:( I use hearing protection religiously now to prevent further damage (I don't think my sanity could handle it!!!:banghead::uhoh:).

October 6, 2008, 08:56 PM
This is a re post from http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=392271&page=2

I fired a .357 with a 6 inch barrel when I was very much outside and it deafened me for the rest of the day....scared the crap out of me. There was no loud bang, just a short "P" sound then no birds singing and I couldn't hear what my buddies were saying when they were right next to me. I handed the gun off and walked inside.

Has anyone seen There Will be Blood? (I'll try not to spoil it) I think of the scene where the character that had been deafened was laying on their side just moaning, but they couldn't hear themselves. That's kind of what I was doing until my hearing returned; of course I wasn't completely deaf, but I kept kind of saying "la la la" to test my hearing.

For that reason, I won't buy a .357 handgun...a rifle sure, but that supersonic muzzle blast that close to my head won't happen again, at least not voluntarily.

October 7, 2008, 01:14 AM
I'm 52 and have had tinnitus for at least 30 years. It sucks as badly as everyone else has said, and then some. But think about how many millions of people have gotten it ever since the invention of gunpowder and the Industrial Revolution. All over the planet.

October 7, 2008, 05:18 AM
Ahh, the sound of a yardfull of crickets on a nice summer night.


It sucks.

Foam plugs are rated for 33 Db reduction, some of them. If you double the protection with muffs ya get maybe another 3-6 Db reduction.

Best thing is to try and always remember your protection, and limit your overall time of exposure.

I would be curious to know if the sterol Medrol works though.

October 7, 2008, 06:47 AM
Harmonic posted:
If you are shooting by yourself, roughly 100 rounds of 140 dB instantaneous noise in a day should not produce hearing damage. Put your plugs and muffs on and you get to shoot up to a thousand rounds without damage (louder ammo/gun and the allowable drops by a factor of 5). Shoot with other people and you have to add all the rounds shot cumulatively (10 people shoot 100 rounds and everybody's done for the day; toss a handcannon or 30 cal rifle in and you're back down to 200 rounds cumulative). If you shoot on an indoor range then all the rounds fired while you are on the range go into your total. So you can see that it doesn't take very long on a range to have a thousand rounds popped off around you.

Interesting thread! I always thought that the above quote was accurate---but if so, what happened to the many on this thread who had (sometimes) almost instantaneous hearing damage from one round?

And yet, there are others such as myself, that have fired rifles/shotguns/pistols many times without hearing protection and have minimal hearing loss and maybe occasional tinnitis. I've been tested and have a 10% deficit in the highest range in the left ear (I'm left handed and shoot left handed) with only rare tinnitis that passes quickly. The right ear has normal hearing for someone my age (I'm 48). When target shooting, I do use muffs, but no ear plugs and I'm shooting .357's and often an 03-A3. I don't have ringing even after 50 or so rounds of 30-06 with just muffs on.

So, I have to wonder if there isn't something else going on here. Are some folks just more predisposed to hearing loss? During a gunfight, there are some who don't seem to suffer any hearing damage and apparently the body has some way to shut off or protect some individuals hearing. Could it be that some are able to do this voluntarily?

I don't know what the answers are to these questions. As many have said, the best thing is to wear muffs with plugs and you'll never have to find out what hearing loss is all about!

October 7, 2008, 09:04 AM
apparently the body has some way to shut off or protect some individuals hearing.

No, it doesn't. That's a myth. The effect is called auditory exclusion and it is the mind's way, not the ear's, of cutting out information that might be distracting in a crisis.

October 7, 2008, 09:21 AM
No, it doesn't. That's a myth. The effect is called auditory exclusion and it is the mind's way, not the ear's, of cutting out information that might be distracting in a crisis.

Last I checked, the mind IS a very important part of the body---and this effect results in the hearing not being affected by the sound. What I find interesting is that auditory exclusion occurs with some individuals and not others under the same type of circumstance. So, a gun is shot and one individual suffers permanent hearing problems, and yet another individual appears to have suffered no damage---why?

October 7, 2008, 09:32 AM
I've had the ringing for 30 years now and I've gotten used to it. I blew my hearing playing guitar for a living 6 nights a week, 52 weeks a year. LOUD seemed like a good idea in my 20's. My wife is also used to me not catching the first few words of a sentence about 50% of the time. I use a fan at night for background noise.
I still play in a band, just not as loud.....and I wear protection when shooting.

October 7, 2008, 09:35 AM
Last I checked, the mind IS a very important part of the body---and this effect results in the hearing not being affected by the sound.

No, auditory exclusion is a psychological and not a physical effect. Whether hearing is damaged or not is a different mechanism altogether. Think of being in an auto accident where you quit hearing the radio and tunnel vision occurs. Since the mind "time shares" instead of actually "multi tasking" it dedicates all resources to surviving the perceived threat. It quits accepting input from those senses that aren't involved in preserving the animal. That's all auditory exclusion is, the mind no longer accepting inputs. The ear still receives any damage that might occur. The mind just refuses to "listen" to it.

There is a mechanism that kicks in to protect the inner ear from more sustained high noise. The aural reflex mechanisms work to protect the inner ear from loud noises, but they respond too slowly to protect from impulse damage like gunshots (100 to 150 milliseconds reaction vs microseconds for the noise pulse). The curvature of the ear drum is changed and the muscles attached to the bones that transmit the sound pressure to the inner ear tense up to reduce some of the sound, but too slowly to help shooters. These protective mechanisms can "fatigue" and have their own problems over time, but they don't help shooters because they don't react quickly enough to prevent the damage from occurring.

Most people don't notice the damage done by noise. The loss of hearing is more akin to a chipping away of small bits instead of hacking out large chunks. Since we don't notice the fractional loses we don't pay any attention to the overall loss (like having our rights chipped away little bit by little bit until we wake up to the reality) until it is obvious.

It is the rare occurrence that a dramatic loss is experienced due to a single event or a very few such events. Those instances get discussed and some folks may think that because they don't experience anything dramatic they're not getting any damage.

That's not what we see in occupational safety and industrial hygiene and not what the military sees. Damage occurs.

October 7, 2008, 10:02 AM
Sorry about the bad news.

Also,wear h.p. at drag strips,circle tracks,etc. Top Fuel and Funny Car,especially,generate pain-level sound (db?) but all of it is very loud.

October 7, 2008, 10:11 AM
Last time I went to the local racetrack, I had a pocketfull of those cheap disposable foam plugs. Noticed kid in front of me covering his ears when the top class of 'stock cars' came out. Handed "Dad" 2 packs of the plugs.."Here..'Sonny' keeps covering his ears. Maybe it is too loud for him..."

Dad says "What???"

Handed him the packs and pointed to MY ears...He finally got it.

Buck Nekkid
October 7, 2008, 10:44 AM
I may have commented on this before, but it bears repeating. There is only one organization devoted to finding a cure and effective treatments, The American Tinnitus Association. (http://www.ata.org/)

I have been a member for several years. There is very interesting and powerful research going on and it's an organization worthy of our support. They are actively working with the Department of Veteran Affairs as Tinnitus is one of the major debilitating effects of service in the Armed Forces.

October 7, 2008, 10:46 AM
my loss is from too much rock and roll as a yute (youth)

it was fun, but now i usually decide to not turn on the stereo
so as to not get into it and turn it up louder, causing more trouble

yes...i have cricket too...even when it is twenty below...it is
the only time i am absolutely sure that it is in my head....

i use plugs for mowing the lawn and snowblowing....have to

at least my wife and i can joke about it.....she says: do you have
the time? and i say: you want a dime? and we laugh and say
at least we are rhymimg....

even driving with the car window open causes trouble

if i even dare to go to a rock and roll show now, which is very
rare, i go with plugs.....not as much fun but better than
more damage

oh well....wont stop me from shooting....use plugs and muffs....

October 7, 2008, 11:04 AM
No one has mentioned shooting indoors without protection
which of course usually happens in the case of self defense.
As a 15 yr old kid I shot just a 22 rimfire in the hallway of our
home and my ears were ringing loudly for two days.
I cannot even imagine shooting a centerfire pistol or a high
pressure round of 9mm or 357 mag. I am seriously thinking
of jumping through the hoops to get a silencer for my
self protection home pistol. I know they are plentiful for
22 pistols but I dont see or hear much about them for
other centerfire pistols. Does anyone else know much
about which pistols for home defense are easiest to
put silencers on ?

October 7, 2008, 11:13 AM
I just hate to hear guys saying " It's just a .22, it wont hurt your ears".

Yes, it will. :scrutiny:

October 7, 2008, 11:18 AM
After you have suffered hearing loss and side effects like tinnitus, there is little that can be done. Protection is the first line of defense. There appears to be a window lasting up to several days after a noise incident (e.g. SD shooting) that may ameliorate the consequences.

As a consequence of this article, I now EDC aspirin and vitamin E. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/noise.asp.

A small excerpt from the article follows.

NIDCD researchers also are investigating a potential way to prevent NIHL after noise exposure. Noise exposure triggers the formation of destructive molecules, called free radicals, that cause hair cell death. Researchers initially had thought that antioxidants, chemicals that protect against cell damage from free radicals, might prevent NIHL only if the antioxidants were given before noise exposure. In a recent study, however, the antioxidants in salicylate (aspirin) and Trolox (vitamin E) were given to guinea pigs as long as three days after noise exposure and still significantly reduced hearing loss. These results suggest that there is a window of opportunity in which it is possible to rescue hearing from noise trauma. Scientists hope to begin clinical trials with humans with the goal of reducing NIHL.

October 7, 2008, 11:21 AM
A couple points...just because you have shot guns does not mean your hearing loss/tinnitus is related to that - yourang? above mentions some of the many other offenders, but there is also plain old simple inheritance of the trait. There is some evidence that our ears know how to "protect themselves" in the instance of long-term, sustained noise (Battlefield, for instance), though damage can take place when "surprised" by sudden, sharp noises - that gunshot, for instance. Also, and very importantly, ear plugs alone do NOT always provide protection...sufficient damaging vibrations can be conducted through bone structure near the ear to affect hearing...muffs will alleviate this.

October 7, 2008, 03:15 PM
i always have used just the cheap plugs. I think i will get a set of muffs now!

October 8, 2008, 12:03 AM
I wear both earplugs and muffs when at indoor and outdoor ranges. When walking up to check the targets at outdoor ranges, i still keep my plugs in just in case someone starts shooting before it is time. So far, no ringing in my ears after shooting over 15 years regularly. I do not listen to loud music or frequent concerts, so i'm sure that helps.

October 8, 2008, 10:09 AM
I have substantial ringing in both ears that I can usually hear, even with some background noise. I guess that's the result of years of piano, music editing, music in general, and a bad car accident. I just leaned to ignore it. I heard somebody on a different forum describe it as being like having a giant scar across your face. If you ignore it it's bearable, but if you constantly think about it it will ruin your life.

October 8, 2008, 11:13 AM
There is some suggestion that N-acetyl-L-cysteine supplementation can help mitigate the long-term results of noise exposure (through prevention of cochlear cell death), though the effects, if any, are not short-term. I'd pick some up, though.


And whatever you do, AVOID LISTENING TO MUSIC VIA HEADPHONES for the next few months, to give your hearing a chance to heal as much as it can, and sleep in a silent room if at all possible.

October 8, 2008, 11:19 AM
I always have used just the cheap plugs. I think i will get a set of muffs now!

A REAL GOOD idea!!:)

October 8, 2008, 11:29 AM
If you ignore it it's bearable, but if you constantly think about it it will ruin your life.

Mild tinnitus is "ignorable", but it can be so pronounced that it can not be ignored. It can cause serious problems due to the stress it causes which can lead to stress related physical problems. Let's not underestimate the damage that can occur to our hearing.

I hope that the thumbnail sketch everyone get's from threads like these is that you should always wear hearing protection while shooting (and when engaged in any even mildly "noisy" activity) and that you should double up with properly worn high NRR plugs and high NRR muffs).

October 13, 2008, 10:38 AM
Does anyone know where I can find information on the hearing damage from using subsonic ammo, like .45 ACP and .44 Special?

After reading this threat, I'm almost as scared for myself as I am for the BG if I shot someone with a 12 ga or .357:uhoh:.

October 13, 2008, 10:55 AM
Does anyone know where I can find information on the hearing damage from using subsonic ammo, like .45 ACP and .44 Special?

Subsonic or not, it doesn't matter. It's the amount of sonic energy created by the blast of high pressure gas exiting the muzzle. The speed of the bullet is irrelevant.

Loud gunshots in confined spaces are going to affect your hearing. A lot of the effects will be temporary ringing that will subside over the course of minutes. Some may be permanent. A small amount of your hearing will be lost. That will be added to all the other losses suffered during normal life activities--loud music, industrial noise, pushing your lawn mower, etc. No avoiding it. We do the best we can by wearing ear protection all the time when we know we're going to be exposed to lound noise. Even those foam plugs are better than nothing.


October 13, 2008, 11:31 AM
Alright that makes sense. I suppose I'll just not worry about it and hope my adrenaline saves me.

October 13, 2008, 11:46 AM
Tinnitus is the best reason I can think of to invest in a sliencer. I have no idea why anyone would want to shoot unsuppressed (barring the cost and hassle of dealing with NFA)...

October 13, 2008, 04:11 PM
I'm lucky. My dad, as well as my friends' dads, all seemed to be of the philosophy that ear protection is worn only when OSHA might be looking. As a result, growing up, I was shooting 130 gr .270, hot 300 win mag loads, and occasionally indoors I would shoot the odd revolver. I'm a musician, I would go to many concerts as well unprotected.

When I went to take my Army physical, I scored so high on the hearing test, they didn't believe it, they made me take it three times. In training as an armor crewman, I was well advised early on, that the army no longer pays disability for hearing loss. You are issued hearing protection, and if you don't use it, it's your fault. Period. Firing .50 Brownings and tank guns, I was non-stupid enough to believe them.

I came home, and when we would go shooting, I pulled out earplugs and everyone looked at me funny. But within a year, everyone else in my crew was wearing them too, gradually realizing that earplugs are not a challenge to your manhood. Again, evidence that God watches out for fools, drunks, and small children.

October 13, 2008, 04:32 PM
The only time I don't wear hearing protection is when I'm shooting my H&R single-shot .22 carbine on my private .22 range and using CCI CB Long primer rounds, the hammer striking the transfer bar and the click of the round striking the paper target are the only noises it makes, it's almost completely silent

anything else, hearing protection is required, from .22 Short on up

I have to admit, I wonder what my CZ-75 and Glock 21 sound like without hearing protection, but I'm not willing to risk my hearing to find out, the pistol range at my rod and gun club has an enclosed shooting hut, and that tends to amplify the report from any firearm

October 13, 2008, 04:54 PM
I wear hearing protection when shooting but also around anything else loud - like a gas leaf blower.


October 14, 2008, 12:30 AM
I lost some high frequency hearing as a result of 6 years in the Navy as a nuclear propulsion plant operator on submarines.

I am now absolutely religious about wearing hearing protection, not just when shooting but at any time I am around loud noises such as mowing the grass, working with power tools, etc....

October 14, 2008, 12:56 AM
I don't remember how long my ears have been ringing for. I remember being a little kid, before I shot any guns, laying in bed listening to ringing... or maybe I just have distorted memories.

Between hunting and concerts I'd say is the culprit. I haven't heard the ring in months, then while reading through the facts in this thread boom there it is again...


If I can keep it at this level I will be happy. I'll have to be more careful.

October 14, 2008, 01:20 AM
I've been battling tinnitus for last 15 months. Mine is that high pitched electronic ring, sounds just like the old TV sets that had to warm up before the picture tube comes on.

Yeh, I'm 57... Sometimes, It rings til I finally pass out in bed at nite, and still be ringing when i first become conscious in the morning. Lately i've been doing better though. Don't know why.

I quit taking Ibuprofen for a few weeeks but didn't notice any real difference. It seems to me that mental headwork makes it come on. Tasks such as reading and surfing on the intenet for hour or more can set it off. Weird.

I have had the ringing sometimes for four-five day periods...then have a week of "very mild ONLY if I think about it ringing" There was times in the beginning where I thought I was gonna lose it because I couldn't sleep...then I learned to just ignore it, but that is easier said than done.

I took daily regimen aspirin (8MG) since i was forty...thats seventeen years...I wonder til this day if that had any effect on damaging my ears.

And yes, I got my ears rung in the duck blind numerous times in my youth and worked with power tools for the last forty years. Went to rock concerts and woke up next morning with ears still ringing. Nothing like that hind sight.

October 14, 2008, 08:00 AM
not quite the same thing, but i had a freind who was in wwII and the korean war, he was a medic and one day while trying to help one of our wounded, a mortar went off less than 50 feet away. he spent some time in the infirmary, healing from his wounds. but since that day, he had permamnant hearing loss and ringing in his ears. he managed to live a normally, productive life until this past year @ 84, he passed away. it is going to be hard on you adjusting to this new trouble, but it can be done. i sincerly hope you recouperate 100%, but if you dont, you can adjust to it. keep positive. keep active. live long.

Mak Maven
October 14, 2008, 09:57 AM
Google,----> N - Acetyl Cysteine Noise damage {AND} ALCAR (Acetyl Carnitine)

They are using these over the counter meds, on marines at Camp Pendelton for noise damage.
They are having favorable results.

I take them both as a preventive. I have normal hearing, but I do shoot and wear muffs, just not taking any chances.

STILL available over the counter as NAC or N-Acetyl Cysteine and Acetyl Carnitine

Sorry about length of Article

February 2003
David Karlman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
American BioHealth Group, LLC
15721 Bernardo Heights Parkway Suite 151
San Diego, California 92128
(ph) 858-675-3600
(fax) 858-613-0748
Compound Licensed By American BioHealth Group From U.S. Navy Shown To
Protect Against Hearing Loss From Noise

SAN DIEGO, California, February 24, 2003 -- American BioHealth Group LLC (ABG), a privately held San
Diego-based company developing hearing loss prevention and treatment technology licensed exclusively
from the U.S. Navy, announced today that positive pre-clinical data on that technology were presented in at the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) Meeting held in Daytona Beach, Florida
February 23 -27, 2003.

In the poster presentation, submitted by Army Colonel Richard D. Kopke, MD, and other researchers at
DOD Spatial Orientation Center, Naval Medical Center, San Diego and the Center for Hearing and
Deafness, State University of New York at Buffalo, pre-clinical data were presented demonstrating that
administration of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) decreased acute noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) due to loud impulse noise exposure.

This new data extends previous research indicating that NAC is
protective against loud continuous noise such as jet engine noise.
In the reported study, NAC, given in a basic science model before and after simulated M-16 rifle fire
consisting of 150 shots over 75 seconds reduced permanent hearing loss by over 70%.

A similar reduction in damage to the cochlear hair cells was also noted. In other related research presented by the Naval Medical Center group at ARO, data were reported indicating that two key mechanisms of inner ear injury
were depletion of inner ear glutathione and damage to mitochondria. Glutathione is a key inner ear
antioxidant and NAC replenishes the inner ear glutathione depleted by loud noise.

In addition, in a related presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association for Hearing
Conservation in Dallas, Texas just prior to the ARO meeting, the Navy group reported that a mitochondrial
protectant known as acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), also licensed by ABG from the U.S. Navy, effectively
reduced permanent hearing loss due to acute trauma from continuous noise, both when given as prevention before the noise and when given hours later as treatment.

“Based on these and other findings, NAC and a broader family of antioxidant compounds, like ALCAR,
licensed by ABG appear to be effective hearing loss protection therapies,” stated David Karlman, Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer of American BioHealth Group.

“These compounds have now been shown to effectively prevent both acute and chronic hearing loss, as well significant and growing healthcare issue in
our society today, as treat acute hearing loss, in models of various noise insults and cancer therapies.
These compounds represent the only therapy that addresses all aspects of the postulated mechanisms of
hearing loss due to noise, including free radical generation, glutamate excitotoxicity, glutathione depletion,
mitochondrial injury, and programmed cell death.

“Currently there is no pharmaceutical product in the marketplace targeted at these indications, and our goal is to develop a series of products based on the technology that addresses this significant unmet medical need,” added Karlman.

“Potential clinical uses include hearing loss prevention in high-noise work and training environments and in environments where people are exposed to a combination of noise and toxins, such as military flight lines and certain industrial settings; protection against recreational noise hazards such as shooting; and treatment for acute acoustic injury as well as hearing loss due to genetic predisposition, chemotherapy treatment, and aging.”

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