View Full Version : Going Deaf

May 5, 2008, 01:23 PM
So i been thinking and wondering why is it that during war that soldiers dont go def from the sound of all that automatic fire...do your ears grow use to the extremely loud gun fire during war and you can manage to live with it?

May 5, 2008, 01:39 PM
If they don't wear hearing protection they do go deaf.

May 5, 2008, 01:50 PM
Pretty sure all the modern day equipment has hearing protection built in to the helmets and what not. If not, there is hearing protection available andyes they wear them. Back in the day, soldiers did go deaf

Hard Ball
May 5, 2008, 01:58 PM
I went through 13 months of combat which included repeated exposure to hostile artillery fire and my hearing is still good. I do usually wear ear protection when I go to the range these days.

May 5, 2008, 02:04 PM
No, your ears never "get used to it". Loud noise is always damaging. Hearing loss usually shows up later with the continual assault of loud noises. A VERY loud noise can cause almost immediate damage.

Back in my younger days, I stood next to a .357 snubbie (about 10') on an outdoor firing range for 50 rounds with no hearing protection. Now I have a 50% loss in that ear over the other one.

May 5, 2008, 03:37 PM
No, your ears never "get used to it". Loud noise is always damaging. Hearing loss usually shows up later with the continual assault of loud noises. A VERY loud noise can cause almost immediate damage.

So now I get new hearing aids about every three years for the price of a nice custom rifle. :(:mad:

Wish I had learned the importance of a hearing protection 50 years ago rather than about 35 years ago.

May 5, 2008, 03:45 PM
Like the others said - the hearing damage usually comes out later in life. I believe I read that the average was a 30% loss for military over the average citizen over the long haul... :eek:

Then again, I guess going def 30 or 40 years from now is better than loading up on hearing protection and not noticing some insurgent coming out of the closet in a room you are clearing and getting shot in the head...

Grandpa Shooter
May 5, 2008, 08:36 PM
Huh? What'd you say? Couldn't hear ya with all the buzzing in my head. Darned artillery!

May 5, 2008, 09:35 PM
In my unit's line of work, the problem was multi-faceted.

First, there was the gunfire, RPGs, etc. Fortunately, we preferred suppressed MP5 and other HK hardware. UNfortunately, our targets/enemies did not.

Second problem was all the transportation modes we utilized. Outboard motors, when they're WOT and you're at the transom, are loud. Real loud. Add between thirty minutes to two ours of solid WOT and you're a wreck before you even get to your objective.

Helicopters aren't a picnic either. Nor are the cargo bays of those $##@%! C-130's. Only plane I ever jumped out of that was louder was a C-141. And worse yet, those insertions had you on those damned planes for two to ten hours. Luckily, you could wear earplugs, but being military issue earplugs. . .

And then there were the flashbangs, C4 charges we used as "universal keys" to unlock stubborn doors, and other noise-makers.

But believe it or not, in actual combat operations, the noise never bothered me--we were far too focused, intense.

When I got out of the service, my hearing was around 90%. Today, thirty-plus years later, it is around 60% and at the end of the day, I have a constant ringing in my ears that lasts from around 6:00 p.m. until I hit the rack at whatever time my insomnia allows me. A few hours of sleep clears the ringing, but it always comes back.

In speaking with the other guys at the occasional reunion, we all pretty much suffered some hearing loss.

But as one of the guys always reminds us, we volunteered. We could've quit at any time during the training that we wanted to.


K Train
May 5, 2008, 09:40 PM
the new issue earplugs aren't that bad when worn properly, i use a pair of peltor electronic ear muff's over my plugs, that amplifies the sounds so i can hear voices, etc and it fits under my kevlar. i turn them off in the bird or hmmwv bc of the constant noise that it will amplify.

May 5, 2008, 09:45 PM
we get issued earplugs and use them in training, but nothing fancy like built in sound dampeners. just driving a humvee requires earplugs according to OSHA guidelines. It's an occupational injury that most old soldiers with extensive time in a line unit eventually have to deal with.

May 6, 2008, 11:18 AM
I entered the Army in 71 through ROTC. While in college, I qualified for the Army flight program with excellent hearing. I had to serve 18 months in an Engineer ground unit before entering flight school due to requirements from college ROTC. The Army was just beginning to get results from hearing conservation studies done on WW2, Korea and VN veterans with hearing loss. During the 18 month service in the Engineers, my hearing deteriorated so much due to range qualification with the M16 and 45 cal and other situations, that when taking the flight physical again prior to entering flight school, I was disqualified from the program. Shortly after this time, the Army began issuing hearing protection to every soldier and provided training on proper use. Years later when going thru my retirement physical, the documentation of the hearing loss from 1971-1973 qualified me for hearing aids from the Veterans Administration. In talking to verterans from the Iraq war, they are telling me that some wear hearing protection and some don't. The Blackwater guys have told me they were issued small electronic ear plugs that muffled the gunfire sound, especially when inside vehicles.

So I have said all this to say that the high level of noise caused by gunfire will permanently damage hearing in most people. I'm sure there are some who can survive the loud noise without permanent hearing loss, but they are not the norm. everyone should wear hearing and eye protection when shooting.

May 6, 2008, 11:37 AM
everyone should wear hearing and eye protection when shooting.

I strongly agree. I just wish someone would have told me that when I was 16 years old. Maybe I could still hear the crickets sing. I have severe high frequency hearing loss. I still hear fairly well at voice frequencies.

For all you young guys, use hearing protection whenever there is loud noise and that includes music. Later in life, you will be glad you took care of yourself.

May 6, 2008, 02:36 PM
I shot my Glock once without hearing protection...my ears were ringing for some time (but not as bad as my buddy's who shot his .357 magnum:D) And that was only a 9mm! I'm pretty sure you would eventually go deaf if you shoot a high-powered rifle without protection frequently.

I alsways use ear hearing protection when I shoot (and when I go to rock concerts!).

May 6, 2008, 03:51 PM
I wear hearing protection whenever I shoot, even .22LR stuff simply because it's less effort to simply develop the habit of ALWAYS wearing hearing protection than only selectively wearing it and forgetting it periodically.

In competition, even though I only shoot .22LR at 25, 50 and 100 yards I find ear defenders make it much easier to focus.

I also do some firearms related stuff in theatre as a theatre and stage manager and insist that everyone on stage wears ear protection when using blank firing weapons. I once tried a .38 revolver without protection when I was younger and stupider. I lost the hearing in my left ear for 20 minutes...

May 8, 2008, 11:18 PM
Most people don't realize they lost hearing until you notice you're telling people "what was that again?" repeatedly.

May 8, 2008, 11:22 PM
21 years next Sunday, 5 hearing waivers over the last 10 years and about 40% hearing loss, no you don't get used to it. And the ringing isn't as nice as silence:(

Duke Junior
May 8, 2008, 11:40 PM
Hi,my first post.
I spent 10 years in the Army including reserve duty and my hearing has certainly suffered.My doctor says my hearing in the left ear is only 30 per cent of normal and the right barely 50 per cent.
So I'm using a hearing aid in the left ear and trying to avoid making things worse.Riding motorcycles are out and range activity is cut way down.
It's a cruel blow, but a lot of guys I was in the service with are no longer with us, and others are in much worse shape.So no moping,just have to ride it out.

May 9, 2008, 12:23 AM
About 10 years in the FA (M110's and M109's, not to mention all the diesel engines of 18 months in an ammo platoon........... ) made me deaf as a board. It was a noisy business. And yes, it did not bother me much at the time, but it sure does now.............. wear your plugs, guys. It is to late for my ears. Protect yours.

May 9, 2008, 02:39 PM
I once put 6 rounds through a big ole' Colt .357 (custom loaded pretty hot....we were bored late at night) without plugs. The upshot is that the shockwave from missed rounds was strong enough to crumple aluminum cans. The down shot was that I couldn't hear voices right next to me for 3 hours, and the ringing / itching / pain didn't go away for almost a week. I don't know if there is any real long term damage from that session as I have not been tested recently before or since, but I will never fire anything bigger than a .22 without muffs or plugs after that experience. I can only imagine that combat soldiers take a serious auditory beating.

May 9, 2008, 04:25 PM
If you do something like that, either unintenionally or , uh, otherwise, you can go to the doctor and they can prescribe steroids to assist the healing of your inner ear.

I did something like that, and everone sounded like charlie browns teacher...

May 9, 2008, 06:18 PM
Iv'e had quite a bit of hearing loss over the years. Best thing I've purchased is a set of electronic muffs, that allow you to hear low frequency sounds like conversation but filter out the damaging levels.
I wear them at home, so when my wife brings out the "to do" list, I just turn down the volume.

May 9, 2008, 11:24 PM
Most often combat deafness is exacerbated with age. You get the damage and perhaps lose some hearing, but later in life it really catches up.

May 10, 2008, 11:58 AM
I continually thank God for the fact that I paid attention to warnings about hearing damage when I was a kid. This was back in the '60s, during the advent of the "louder is better" amplified rock music. I have always been a "peace and quiet" kind of guy, and am blessed to have maintained my hearing.

It is gratifying when our music at church (contemporary) hurts my ears. I take that to mean that my ears are still healthy and sensitive. I just step out into the lobby when it becomes uncomfortable.

At the indoor range where I normally shoot, I double up with plugs and muffs. Recently, I forgot to insert the plugs, and shots with muff only were uncomfortable. Another good sign! Of course, I quickly stepped out of the range area.

Para Bellum
May 10, 2008, 12:26 PM
auditory exclusion: If you are in sever danger, your hearing protects itsself. If you are surprise by fire, like on a hunt, that hurts your hearing.

September 6, 2012, 04:08 PM
I went into the USAF in 70.

Between 70 - 71, my assigned base was the first to get the massive C-5 Galaxys. Little did we know, that having the new 'erector set' loading ramps located near the warehouse facilities, would create such a noise level. You figure, four large jet engines at idle, whining away, while the plane was unloaded/loaded, and then as it moved from tarmac to runway, we were in the line of sight of the back of the engines.

Between 71 -74, I was assigned to a land-based B-52 base in SouthEast Asia. (this was before Diego Garcia was finished.) Not only were there my regular assigned duties, as running aircraft parts to all the maintenance areas across the base, but also times where I was issued a Model 15 and a radio, and placed at the perimeter. Sometimes that was more exciting than going to the off-limits bars, downtown! Off-duty, there was always a competition between attempting to hear the movie at the outdoor theater, and the B-52's as they took off from the end of the runway 150 yards distance.

Last and foremost, between 76 - 80, running a radar maintenance shack for 80 Aircraft, with the appropriate screaming mini-jet engine-powerplant for the test equipment and aircraft just yards away.

Now ... there is the usual tinnitus reminder, a hearing loss - bass one ear, tenor the other, and most car noises go unheard, as do whispers from the voice that you wish you could hear the whispers! Hearing aids bring all the noise to life, too much for my liking, but they still don't work with a smartphone! Sounds like the phone melting after a nuclear attack in the movie FailSafe.

Glenn E. Meyer
September 6, 2012, 04:39 PM
This is a very old thread and we have a more recent one on hearing loss. So if the recent poster wants to continue that one, it can be found with a search.

So closed.