Are you listening? Protect your hearing this hunting season

Monday, October 15, 2018

By: Alysha Schertz

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Wisconsin man deer hunting with rifle while wearing ear protection.


Each fall, thousands of Wisconsinites head into the woods for the state’s annual gun deer hunting season. This year, BayCare Clinic audiologist Dr. Andrea Federman reminds hunters to have ear protection.


Did you know that the sound from a 12-gauge shot gun registers at approximately 160 decibels? That’s enough to cause immediate damage to your hearing after just one shot.


Continued exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent damage to your hearing.


“It all depends on the person and how much noise they are exposed to on a regular basis,” Federman says. “Any noise over 140 decibels has the potential to cause immediate, and sometimes permanent, damage.”


If you’ve ever been exposed to a gun shot or a similarly loud noise, and later heard ringing in your ears, chances are you’ve damaged your hearing.

Sometimes, the damage is permanent, but sometimes the hearing returns. That’s called Temporary Threshold Shift.


“Once you’ve experienced some hearing loss, you become more susceptible to loud noises, which can cause additional hearing loss,“ Federman says.


According to data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, your ears can tolerate up to two hours of noise at 91 decibels before damage begins to occur.  For reference, a typical conversation between two people occurs at approximately 65 decibels.


So what can you do?


Noise-induced hearing loss can be permanent, but it’s also preventable.


There are several types of hearing protection available on the market including earplugs, earmuffs and electronic earmuffs that can protect and enhance your hearing -- making them ideal for hunting.


Cost and individual comfort play a huge role in the selection of ear protection devices. According to Federman, the Noise Reduction Rating is the most important piece of information to consider.


Exposure to noise while wearing the device is limited by the NRR. For example, if your hunting rifle produces a noise registering 156 decibels and your ear plugs only have a NRR of 29, you’re being exposed to an unsafe 127 decibels of sound each time you take a shot.  


Choosing hearing protection devices that bring your sound exposure under 100 decibels is the best way to ensure your hearing safety during the hunt.


Protecting your ears while hunting should be a priority, just like any other safety precaution, Federman says.


Dr. Andrea Federman sees people of all ages in Green Bay. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8230 or 866-431-7431 or do so online.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.