Plugs and Muffs weren't enough.


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PedalBiker
June 22, 2010, 10:35 AM
I bought a .45 for my 45th birthday, made a quick trip to the range and shot 100 rounds out of the .45 and then about 40 rounds from my trusty Mossberg 500. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of recoil and muzzle blast from the .45. The gun was a Ruger P345 and was really fun to shoot. Unfortunately my ears are still ringing. This has now happened the last several trips to the range. In spite of both plugs and muffs I now have a couple of weeks of irritating ringing in my ears after shooting sessions. I'm really concerned that one of these times the ringing won't go away (and that this time might be it).

I wasn't always so careful, but after an Army hearing test that showed hearing loss I wised up - or so I thought.

The first couple of times I thought it was due to other folks with "loud" guns. This time I was the only one on the range, it was outdoors, I wasn't there long and I didn't shoot all that much.

I think it's time for me to stick to .22s and archery.

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MisterMike
June 22, 2010, 10:40 AM
That's pretty unusual; are you sure your muffs and plugs are intact and that you're using them properly?

If over-the-counter equipment doesn't work for you, I'd consider scheduling a visit with an audiologist who fits earplugs. He/she can help you find the right solution.

CoRoMo
June 22, 2010, 10:48 AM
I wonder if something else isn't affecting you. You may have Tinnitus that is being brought on by the activity, rather than the blasts. I'd get checked out, especially if you are experiencing this for weeks.

oneounceload
June 22, 2010, 10:53 AM
Do you also use loud tools like power trimmers, lawn mowers, etc. without hearing protection - long exposure to sounds like those on the edge cause hearing loss....(so does listening to music with headphones very loud- that got me). Combine an accrued sensitivity with this new noise and bad things happen

Uncle Mike
June 22, 2010, 10:54 AM
You may have Tinnitus that is being brought on by the activity,

Probably the case, I knew a Captain in the Navy that this very thing was happening.

He also thought it may have been from exposure to gunfire, but alas, the gentleman found out it was tinnitus.

PedalBiker
June 22, 2010, 11:29 AM
Do you also use loud tools like power trimmers, lawn mowers, etc. without hearing protection - long exposure to sounds like those on the edge cause hearing loss....(so does listening to music with headphones very loud- that got me). Combine an accrued sensitivity with this new noise and bad things happen

I wear hearing protection for almost all power tools (now), but when I started many years ago I did not. My did didn't believe in that stuff and I started using chain saws and shooting in my teens.

I think it's just gotten to the point where my ears have had enough.

Also, it's not just shooting, I had my iPod too loud at the gym one day and my ears rang for a week or so after that too. Now I'm quite careful with it as well.

MisterMike
June 22, 2010, 12:52 PM
Tinnitus can be a symptom of many different conditions, though it sounds like the OP may have just abused his ears a bit too much. Try the audiologist. You might need to work with an MD as well.

flyinrob
June 22, 2010, 12:56 PM
Sounds like it isn't just the shooting that causes it. I would give the ear doc a call.

Nushif
June 22, 2010, 01:01 PM
Definitely the ear doc. And most definitely a custom fitted set of plugs. Those are amazing in any case.

harmonic
June 22, 2010, 01:09 PM
If you've already suffered hearing damage, it might not take much to aggravate an already existing condition.

Don't forget about bone conduction of concusive sound waves. The mastoid bone will transmit the sound vibrations directly to you inner ear where the cochela and the hearing nerves resides. Constant exposure to this kind of concusive sound waves, ie: 50 BMG, industrial heavey machinery, will result in the degradation of your hearing quality. Even with ear muffs, bone conduction is a big factor in hearing.

Kyle1886
June 22, 2010, 01:32 PM
PedalBiker, according to my audiologist it only takes one unfortunate event to cause "acoustic trauma". In my case, I was helping a neighbor adjust the metal tractor style seat on her exercize bike. I smacked the underside of the seat with a hammer and the resulting "clang" caused me to be almost completely deaf for 2 days. I immedately contacted an ENT-Audiologist, (Ear, nose, throat doctor). He said that the chances on regaining my hearing is "slim to nil". That was two years ago. I have regained a little bit of my "base and lower treble tones" Most of my mid-range and low base and high treble are nonexistant. Yes there is a constant hiss or ring that I never had before, drowns out conversation.

I hope your condition is temporary, but you should have it checked out. At least with the audio tests, it will give you a "new base point" to evaluate any future or progressive hearing loss.

I wish you luck.

Respectfully
Kyle

toivo
June 22, 2010, 01:43 PM
There's plugs and muffs and there's plugs and muffs... I find the smooth, cone-shaped foam plugs do almost nothing for me. Add a pair of worn-out or loose-fitting muffs, and it's still pretty poor protection.

I need the cylinder-shaped, rough-textured plugs to seal my ear canals. Add a pair of good-fitting muffs with plenty of padding in the cups to close up around the earpieces of my shooting glasses, and that's pretty good protection.

+1 on the concussive aspects. It's worse indoors, or even under a shelter roof. You get a one-two punch when the shockwave bounces back. If I'm alone on our club range, I will sometimes move the bench out from under the roof when shooting centerfire rifles.

DoubleTapDrew
June 22, 2010, 02:13 PM
Definitely see a doc. Damage is cumulative and it sounds like it could be tinnitus. I was stupid when I was younger around guns, engines, concerts, tools, etc. and would just "man up" instead of taking proper care of my ears and I have tinnitus now.

moxie
June 22, 2010, 02:22 PM
A visit to the doc is indicated. I suffer from major loss from 23 years in the Air Force, as well as private shooting, 2 stroke engines and all the usual. But plugs and muffs do a great job for me, so I suspect something else is going on or your plugs and muffs aren't fitting/working properly. A .45 (assuming an auto here) and a shotgun are most definitely not that loud in the scheme of things, especially outdoors. A .22 revolver is louder.
You might also try some different plugs (make sure they have a NRR of 29 or higher) and some of the electronic noise cancelling muffs. They do work!

Also, if you are using ratty old army muffs, the foam could have degraded to useless. They don't last forever. Ditto on plugs.

ForumSurfer
June 22, 2010, 02:30 PM
My Dad didn't believe in that stuff and I started using chain saws and shooting in my teens.

Same here, among other loud activities.

Like others have said, see a doctor. A 45 shouldn't cause ringing with that much protection. It doesn't for me, and like yourself I had that noisy childhood.

My Dad experienced similar issues with ringing. It was due to the drastic pressure changes when firing a larger caliber or anything that created shockwaves. He never realized he had an inner ear problem until he just fell over one day. Your inner ear has a drastic affect on your balance. We were walking along and there was some loud noise (I forget now what it was). He just got dizzy and was down on the ground in a matter of seconds...all the visible symptoms of a heart attack. The pin pointed the inner ear issue at the ER after the rest of us nearly suffered a heart attack after that scare. Take care of your ears. Like you, I didn't from an early age and now I regret it.

I fire a 45 on my property from time to time with no protection, same as with all my SD guns. If heaven forbid I ever use it in self defense, I need to prepare my mind for what that particular gun is going to sound like. IMO, never hearing a shot without protection may cause a situation one day where you fire in self defense, and that loud blast distracts you for a few seconds. It's doubtful, but I'd rather know. I'm not saying you should do that often, if ever...it's just what I've done to prepare myself just a step farther.

Vonderek
June 22, 2010, 02:44 PM
If it's tinnitus a doctor can't really do anything for you. There's no cure. There're only ways to cope. If you are wearing plugs and muffs together and still damaging your ears I suspect the ear protection you have sucks or you are using them improperly.

Are you sure the plugs are expanding and filling the ear canal firmly or are they just stuck in your outer ear? I have a hard time getting them to 'set' properly, especially in one of my ears. If it's not in right it doesn't really block any noise.

What are the dB ratings on the muffs? If they are only 19 or 20 they're not doing much either. Get muffs with the highest rating.

Once your ears start to go bad you need the highest rated protection you can find. If one of my plugs isn't in right it's painful for me to shoot, even with muffs on top.

oldbear
June 22, 2010, 02:57 PM
Sir, having spent 30 + years riding off-road motorcycles, playing with race cars, driving at highway speed with the window down, and shooting big bore handguns at 61 my most often used expression is ďwhat did they sayĒ? I assure you itís not a lot of fun for me, my wife, or friends.

So Please stop shooting until you can see an audiologist and see if you canít get some working hearing protection.

ForumSurfer
June 22, 2010, 04:55 PM
Sir, having spent 30 + years riding off-road motorcycles, playing with race cars, driving at highway speed with the window down, and shooting big bore handguns at 61 my most often used expression is “what did they say”? I assure you it’s not a lot of fun for me, my wife, or friends.

So Please stop shooting until you can see an audiologist and see if you can’t get some working hearing protection.

old bear speaks the truth. I'm a little more than half his age with the same exposure. Building motors in my parents' small garage at 16-20 years old did not help matters. Too many nights tuning carbs on big blocks with open headers and tuning obnoxiously loud four wheeler/motorcycle carbs took a toll.

I'm 33 and I say "Excuse me?", "Huh?!" and "What!?" entirely too often.

wishin
June 22, 2010, 05:11 PM
Sir, having spent 30 + years riding off-road motorcycles, playing with race cars, driving at highway speed with the window down, and shooting big bore handguns at 61 my most often used expression is ďwhat did they sayĒ? I assure you itís not a lot of fun for me, my wife, or friends.

So Please stop shooting until you can see an audiologist and see if you canít get some working hearing protection.
An audiologist is not a doctor. Yes, they can determine the degree of your hearing loss, but first see a doctor to find out if it's a medical issue, such as an infection, that can be corrected with treatment.

dagger dog
June 22, 2010, 05:34 PM
Some times the damaging noise can be transmitted through the bones of the skull in and around the ear. So a large muff that covers the most area and fits without small openings is the best to wear, plus you want the db stopping # to be as high as possible 30-31, some electronic muffs are as low as 19db. It IS a wise choice to go with the plugs and muffs.

I have around 66 percent hearing loss in my right ear about 15 percent in the left, higher frequencys get damaged first . I'm an auto mechanic by trade, and the air tools have used over the years have taken their toll, with their high pitched scream.

The constant ringing in my right ear was caused by 2 incidents, one at 12 yrs old with a large firecracker going off about a foot away, and the second in 1986 by a revolver shot from a .38 Special, about 6" away, the pain was incredible, total loss of hearing in the right ear for days, finally coming back but with the constant ringing and the hearing loss.

You can't be too carefull, it would be a good idea for custom plugs and muffs if you plan to persue the shooting sports.

Drail
June 22, 2010, 07:00 PM
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things besides exposure to loud noise. I have had tinnitus for years caused by damage to the spinal cord in my neck from an auto accident. As said before, most doctors will simply tell you to get used to it. A neurologist told me he could cut the auditory nerves and render me completely deaf and I would still hear the noise. If you don't have tinnitus you are very lucky. It's a real drag.

PedalBiker
June 23, 2010, 01:14 AM
Thanks for the replies. I've been overdue for a physical so I just scheduled one and will bring this up and ask for a referral to a specialist in ear stuff.

I always had "sensitive" ears and so purchased my own hearing protection from the time I had my own money. Even so I've had a few cases of excessive noise exposure and the last time I was checked already had some hearing loss.

I've never had problems until just recently, but one time at the indoor range I ended up next to an M4 style rifle and the next time I was next to a guy with a semi auto .243 (the new Rem AR style), then the guy's buddy upnacked a .50 BMG and proceded to touch off 2 rounds not more than 15' away under a tin roof. I got really pissed and nearly started a fight (fortunately I had moved my son over a couple of tables at that point). I'm not taking my son to shoot aywhere I don't have control of the environment again. He's popping off a single shot .22 with muffs only and the guys think it's ok to uncase the Barrett without even letting us know.

Both of these incidents left with ringing that lasted a couple of weeks. Since both were somewhat exceptional and it went away I didn't really worry too much. This last time it was only me at the range and as others have mentioned a .45 and 12 ga aren't all that exceptional.

I will most certainly avoid further shooting until I can get a good diagnosis and better hearing protection.

The silicone plugs I was using were fitting well and the muffs are the Caldwell electronic ones (turned off). I'm not sure if it matters, but the right ear plug got a bit too deep and I needed pliers to get it out.

Thanks again for all the support. I'm a huge music fan and I dearly love my wife and kids. I don't want to miss out communicating with my family.

Danus ex
June 23, 2010, 02:38 AM
Wow what a timely thread for me. My left ear just started ringing the Saturday before last after dry-firing a pistol in my office a few times and it hasn't stopped.

Like you, I always, always, always double up when shooting, and I use foam plugs + Silencio Magnums. 3 out of my 4 grandparents have some kind of hearing problem, so I've known for years that I'm at terrible risk for hearing problems. I even had an antibiotic-resistant ear infection when I was 18 that made me temporarily near deaf. Needless, to say, I'm extra paranoid about my hearing. I suppose it will only be fitting that I'll get screwed with permanent tinnitus at age 27. :(

metalman8600
June 23, 2010, 02:43 AM
Try an outdoor range, the sound waves are not as bad when indoors with those walls right next to you.

harmonic
June 23, 2010, 02:48 AM
My left ear just started ringing the Saturday before last after dry-firing a pistol in my office a few times and it hasn't stopped.


Your ears started ringing just from dry firing a gun? What the heck kind of gun was it?

Danus ex
June 23, 2010, 02:53 AM
Your ears started ringing just from dry firing a gun? What the heck kind of gun was it?

Left ear only. It was a PA-63. It seems so stupid I almost wonder if it's coincidence and something else is going on.

Calibre44
June 23, 2010, 02:54 AM
I have had Tinnitus in my left ear for a couple of years now and I always wear ear protection. Unfortunately there isnít much anyone can do for it. Not sure if it was shooting that caused it (been shooing for 10 years) or it was a result of other factors. Some days are worse than others and I have learnt to live with it. Sometimes it is worse after a trip to the range and other times it hasnít made any difference. Some days it isnít there at all. Iíve found that it gets worse when Iím under stress at work as well as when Iíve been subjected to aloud noise- but not always. I spent 5 hours last Saturday at a range with a bunch of guys from my club shooting black powder revolvers all day. The Ďboomí from the guns is really loud especially on full loads but my left ear was fine afterwards Ė Tinnitus is a very weird thing.

harmonic
June 23, 2010, 12:05 PM
Left ear only. It was a PA-63. It seems so stupid I almost wonder if it's coincidence and something else is going on.

Definitely sounds like something else is going on. If it persists, you might want to get yourself checked out. Blood pressure, etc.

Here's some stuff about hearing.

The way you actually hear something is that ganglia (small hairs in your inner ear) vibrate from the result of moving air hitting them, transmitting a message to your brain. When the ganglion are assaulted by an extremely loud stimulus (e.g. crash, jet engine, gun shot), they get "pushed down" a little. They never "stand back up" to their full extension. People lose their hearing as they get older as a result of continued assaults upon the ganglion, pushing them down more and more each time. This results in hearing loss, the ganglion are no longer able to effectively transmit a given message. The loss of frequency (pitch) recognition can be segments of the full spectrum, all hertz between low and high.

Facts on noise levels:
1. Decibels measure sound pressure and are logarithmic. That means that only a 3db increase almost doubles sound pressure, a 6db increase quadruples sound pressure, etc.
2. Gradual hearing loss may occur after prolonged exposure to 90 decibels or above.
3. Exposure to 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can cause hearing loss.
4. Exposure to 110 decibels for more than a minute can cause permanent hearing loss.
5. At 140 dBA noise causes immediate injury to almost any unprotected ear.
6. 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.

Comparative noise levels and length of time exposed to cause permanent 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


Noise levels of firearms:
.22 caliber rifle 130dB
.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.

Using muffs and plugs together: Take the higher of the two and add 5 dB. 30 plug with 20 muff gives an effective NRR of 35.

If you are shooting by yourself, with plugs and muffs on, 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.

Don't forget about bone conduction of concusive sound waves. The mastoid bone will transmit the sound vibrations directly to your inner ear where the cochela and the hearing nerves resides. Constant exposure to this kind of concusive sound wave, (e.g. 50 BMG, industrial heavy machinery) will result in the degradation of your hearing quality. Even with ear muffs, bone conduction is a big factor in hearing.



Dry firing a medium caliber handgun is definitely not on the list.

moxie
June 25, 2010, 09:27 PM
Electronic muffs turned off?? What's the point?

Silicone ear plug so deep you need pliers to get it out? That's not a good fit. You need to get some real ear plugs made for noise reduction. They are usually made of foam and carry a NRR rating of 29, 32, or 33. You have to form them between your fingers to get them into your ear. Silicone plugs are typically made for swimming and don't work well for noise reduction.

FWIW, I wouldn't go in an indoor range where they were firing a .50. Nuts!

So you're using electronic muffs turned off and the wrong plugs that don't fit. There you go.

WardenWolf
June 25, 2010, 09:34 PM
Get better ear cans. That's all I can tell you.

Ryder
June 26, 2010, 10:26 AM
Supposedly muffs deteriorate with age. A brand new pair will reduce noise better than the same set after several years of aging. I have an old pair laying around that can attest to that.

And not all earplugs are created equal. They only reduce the incoming decibels by a certain percent and it varies widely. Some of those are definately not recommended for shooting. In fact I wonder what some of them are recommended for at all.

Zoidberg523
June 26, 2010, 02:03 PM
My ears are pretty bad as well, especially my right ear: When I was younger, I would just put one of those cheapo orange plugs into my left ear, and call it good (as my right was tucked into the stock and didn't seem to bother me). :rolleyes:

Kali
June 26, 2010, 02:29 PM
As others have said there are MANY different causes of Tinnitus.

For example I have allergy induced tinnitus that comes and goes with my allergies. Say my nose and head is getting stuffed up really bad in the spring and ill have really bad tinnitus with it, to the point I can barely sleep at night sometimes because of the ringing. But when my allergies calm down and my head clears up so does the tinnitus for the most part. Right now I can only hear my tinnitus when im in a perfectly quiet room.

My point is make sure there is not another underlying factor triggering your tinnitus.

Doug b
June 26, 2010, 03:28 PM
Some of those ear plugs are called disposable.They are made to be used one time.If you remove a plug to talk or for whatever it's performance is compromised and should be replaced by a new one.

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