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Old August 1, 2012, 06:40 PM   #1
spacecoast
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Question for those of you with hearing damage

First of all, my condolences, and I hope to avoid hearing loss in the future.

My question is, do you find that hearing loss or tinnitus is more severe on your "strong" side, or the side from which you tend to fire? This may not apply if you are an isosceles stance pistol shooter exclusively, but I'm wondering if there is any natural protection for the ear that is away from the gun.
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Old August 1, 2012, 06:52 PM   #2
JimPage
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Yes there is minimal protection for the ear away from the sound. I have heavy deafness in my right ear. I'm right handed one hand pistol shooter. My left ear has some hearing loss, but much less than my right ear.

It only stands to reason that the ear not directly receiving the brunt of the sound wave would get less damage.

(Bear in mind this report is merely anecdotal)
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Old August 1, 2012, 07:18 PM   #3
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I'm 57 and have (tested last year) 60% loss in my right, 30% loss in my left... low tones are the hardest to hear, and background noise can really screw things up if I'm trying to understand conversational speech.

I'm left handed and have always shot a handgun using a close in, Weaver stance... left ear away, right ear toward the gun/target.
I shot competitive benchrest for 15 years, left handed. Although I wore custom plugs and muffs, the ear position was the same, with 10s of thousands of rounds under a covered shooting line.

I do have what I'd term as "occasional tinnitus"... comes and goes randomly with no specific duration or amplitude. Frequency has reduced considerably with my much more limited shooting schedule.

Was shooting the prime contribution to my loss? I don't know. Perhaps 20 years of riding street motorcycles without a helmet... didn't help.

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Old August 1, 2012, 08:01 PM   #4
brmfan
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I seem to have more buzzing in my right (strong side) ear, but I've never been tested so it might just be my perception. It's also mild right now and it really only bothers me when I'm trying to read or fall asleep. Anyway, I decided to start using a suppressor to keep it from getting worse. Using plugs underneath electornic muffs didn't help much, especially with compact rifles. If you live in a state (like Florida) that allows you to have one I'd highly recommend it if you want to shoot often and keep your hearing intact.
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Old August 1, 2012, 08:12 PM   #5
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I am 65 and have been wearing hearing aids for ten years. My hearing loss is equally severe in both ears. It did begin with hearing loss at the high tones but has progressed to a difficulty in distinquishing words vs. hearing a noise. The tough part is the amount of concentration it takes when attempting to listen to others. I basically have to cease any other activity and devote my total attention to listening.

I believe my hearing loss occured from numerous explosions and weapons fire and not just my own shooting. It is also the shared opinion of three audioligist I have used over the years.

Hearing technology is helpful, but it can only do so much. I will say it does help with tennitus.
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Old August 2, 2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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I'm 55 and have been wearing hearing aids for about 10 years. My hearing loss is approximately equal in both sides, but I have other factors involved besides shooting (music and a familial tendency towards hearing loss).
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Old August 2, 2012, 09:58 AM   #7
BRE346
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I'm 87 and have had tinnitus a very long time. I measured my hearing loss over forty year ago and began wearing aid about 20 years ago. I blame these difficulties partly on the terrible noise of the many guns defending my carrier from incoming kamakazis during WWII. I didn't take up handguns until two years ago so it ain't them.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:10 AM   #8
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I thought my hearing loss was worse on my right or shooting side, but last month got tested and new hearing aids,

Not the case, according to the doctor its much worse on my left side,

Don't know why, seems strange to me.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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I'm 24 and have tinnitus in both ears. I credit it to being in artillery. I worked where I was directing the guns with numbers etc so I couldn't wear hearing protection so I didn't mess anything up and fire where we weren't suppose to.

Also had an ear plug fall out during an ammo dump. 30 marines, 120 rounds each in about a minute gets very very loud.

Mine comes and goes as it pleases but otherwise my hearing is fine
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:45 AM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigwy
I thought my hearing loss was worse on my right or shooting side, but last month got tested and new hearing aids,

Not the case, according to the doctor its much worse on my left side,

Don't know why, seems strange to me.
I'm not sure but I developed a theory when I was working in the hearing business because I encountered your situation often.

Basically, if your left ear is very bad and your right ear bad but not AS bad, you end up having to turn your right ear toward people to hear them. This is perceived as that ear being bad, hence having to be turned to get better sound, when in fact it's the opposite.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:50 AM   #11
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BRE346,
It is rare to get a chance to chat with a WWII veteran. Thanks for all you did. My father (1918-1986) was a Navy E-3 Metalsmith on the ABSD-3 stationed in Guam. A floating nine section drydock. Perhaps your ship was serviced there. I know they repaired the Idaho after it had severe damage. I found a picture of that. Papa never told us much about those times. It is only in the last few years that I have found information on the internet about some of what he lived thru. He spent his entire time on the ABSD-3. He transited with it out of CA. to Pearl and to Guam when it was new and stayed there with it till the end of the war. His time served was about 1 3/4 years.

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Old August 2, 2012, 10:08 PM   #12
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I have tinnitus in both ears... It started at the same time in both ears and has never stopped..
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:22 PM   #13
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My weak side ear is worse.

My understanding is that the ear that is most nearly directly behind the gun (typically the strong side ear) benefits from some cancellation effects.

In addition, if you shoot rifle or shotgun, your strong side ear is not only directly behind the bore, it's also turned away slightly and "shadowed" from the muzzle blast by your head. The same effect can be seen, though to a lesser extent when shooting a handgun two-handed. One handed pistol shooting is probably the exception in that the strong-side ear is turned slightly toward the pistol.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
My understanding is that the ear that is most nearly directly behind the gun (typically the strong side ear) benefits from some cancellation effects.
My understanding too.

My weak side ear is worse as well. The ringing is more pronounced as is the actual hearing loss.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:58 PM   #15
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Agree with JohnK

I'm right handed, and my hearing loss is more severe in my left ear.

I believe this is because the sound radiates from the muzzle, and the ear directly behind the gun is less exposed, due to the mass of the gun (particularly long gun) attenuating the blast, slightly. In other words, the non-shooting ear actually recieves more damaging decibels. The difference is slight, but over time, the effect is noticable.

I have an alarm clock that has a high piched chirp and a low pitched buzz. When sleeping on my back, or left side I hear the alarm normally. When sleeping with my right ear in the pillow, all I can hear is the low "brrrt, brrrrt, brrt," Which, by the way usually doesn't wake me up for nearly 20 minutes

My theory might be wrong, or it might only apply to me, personally, but it does explain why my left ear is worse than my right.
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Old August 3, 2012, 08:04 AM   #16
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OK, I'm right handed and I have more hearing loss in my right ear. Actually my hearing ain't worth a dam. And no as my wife states its not all selective hearing, I have the hearing test results to prove it
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Old August 3, 2012, 08:32 AM   #17
Rifleman1776
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Not all hearing loss is caused by shooting.
I worked in a high noise area in the miltary.
Most men, especially older generations, have more loss on the left than right. This is/was due to driving with the window open. My left also has less definition than right.
My first hearing aids, about five years ago, were pretty much useless and I seldom wore them. Recently got new ones that are great. Sound is very natural and they are comfortable.
I am very careful about protecting what I have left of my hearing. I carry two foam plugs in my pocket at all times and use them whenever I am near loud sounds. (shop, lawnmowing, shooting, etc.)
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Old August 3, 2012, 08:51 AM   #18
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It's worse in my right ear but both are affected. Been wearing hearing aids since I was 42. Probably working around aircraft didn't help either.
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Old August 3, 2012, 09:06 AM   #19
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Quote:
I'm right handed, and my hearing loss is more severe in my left ear.
same here, but my left ear hearing loss i attribute to being on the flight deck of the USS Randolph CVA-15, i was in the cockpit of my FJ-3 Fury parked on the Starboard side when there was a 5" 38 cal. firing exercise, when that gun fired i had no hearing protection on, i was about 25-30 feet from the muzzle.., what a BLAST !!!
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Old August 3, 2012, 12:56 PM   #20
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Thanks for the numerous replies. There doesn't seem to be a clear correlation between strong side shooting and hearing loss in that ear, but I do value the data regardless.

I've been doing some research into measuring gunfire noise pressure levels and it's not easy to measure (or inexpensive) due to the short duration and high amplitude of the pressure wave. I'd like to do some real-world testing of my own, without sacrificing my own hearing or investing mega-bucks in testing equipment.

At the moment my game plan would be to have a shooting buddy (with good hearing protection) do the shooting while I stood some relatively safe fixed distance behind to subjectively judge which firearm/ammo combination was more ear friendly. This could also be done, of course, standing to the side to have an indication of the relative effects on a bystander.

I've seen some charts (http://www.freehearingtest.com/hia_gunfirenoise.shtml for example) but don't know how the data was measured (distance or relative position of the sensor, for example). Ammo has to make some difference as well - I would like to be able to know (hear) the relative difference between a .38 special wadcutter target load and an FBI load +P from the same gun.

I hope to be able to finish my testing by the end of the year and will publish anything of value, of course, on TFL.
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Old August 3, 2012, 12:58 PM   #21
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Both of my ears are equally as bad...

If I had only cared 40 years ago...

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Old August 3, 2012, 02:53 PM   #22
jmr40
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I shoot right handed and had a slight hearing loss in my left ear, The one closest to the noise when firing. No tinnitus. It was at about 90% and my right ear was almost perfect at around 98% prior to July of 2011. The 10% of sounds I couldn't hear were not common sounds and I never really knew i had any hearing loss without sophisticated testing which was required each year as part of a physical for work.

I suffered a total loss of hearing in my right ear (the good one), over night. Not shooting or noise related. The Dr's say it is usually caused by a brain tumor, but MRI's were negative. They THINK it was caused by a ruptured blood vessel cutting off blood to my auditory nerve. I took 2 rounds of steroids to help regenerate growth in my inner ear. It helped in a way, my right ear is now around 15%, but in some ways it is worse. Before I was totally deaf in my right ear. Now I hear sounds, but cannot always make out what someone says and the tinnitus is pretty severe in that ear at times.

I shot guns and worked in loud conditions with no hearing protection up till my mid 30's and suffered very little hearing loss nor tinnitus. Been wearing protection for the last 20 years though or I'm sure that would have been much different.
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Old August 3, 2012, 04:19 PM   #23
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My tinnitus is in glorious stereophonic surround. Sounds like it's coming directly from the center of my head. Obviously both my ears are affected nearly equally, It is not fun and certainly not funny. Lawn mowers all my life without plugs, loud industry most of my life, some without plugs, rock concerts, and shooting, especially .22s without plugs have taken it's toll. Oh and a neat little toy when I was a kid called the Sonic Blaster. Needless to say, I double-up on protection now, but only to save what I have left. If in doubt, plug it.
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Old August 3, 2012, 04:43 PM   #24
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Both sides are about the same. My hearing loss is a result of a variety of activities, not just shooting.
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Old August 3, 2012, 05:54 PM   #25
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Eh, what's that?
Speak up, dagnabbit.
My tinnitus changes from one ear to the other, day by day.
Hmm.
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