Concerned I've damaged my hearing after a few unprotected rounds?

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    1. #1
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      Concerned I've damaged my hearing after a few unprotected rounds?

      Hey guys. First, I'd like to introduce myself to everyone at Handgun Forum. My name is Dave & I'm 20 years old. I'm a little concerned I might have caused myself some hering loss over in last few months. Over the last six months, I've taken roughly 9 unprotected shots of .40S&W from my friend's Glock 27. Wednesday of last week, He had purchased a .380ACP (Unsure of make) and again I took 3 unprotected shots (During these times I've always covered my ears when he shot though).

      After getting home Wednesday evening, I felt a stuffiness in my ears. I did some reading online & I was woken up about the dangers of shooting unprotected. I have always used ear protection on the range, and even hunting (I'd put a set behind my ears, if game came into view I'd put them in). I think it was Thursday, I went to bed & noticed a very faint, high frequency but quiet ringing/whine in my ears which is still with me now. I know it sounds absolutely mad, but I'm not sure if it's really there, or if I'm imagining it since I was reading about it two days earlier. Psychosomatic effect?

      Now, I'm terrified I might have caused myself permanent hearing loss, and possibly Tinnitus from these couple shots. I have also noticed I have a sensitivity to certain sounds (A car went down my street & its' brakes made my ears feel 'sensitive'). You guys have ALOT more experience shooting than I do, so I'd like to know in your honest opinion if you believe this is normal after being exposed to these shots, or if those last 3 shots really did my ears in & caused me the permanent phenomena they call Tinnitus, maybe even Hyperacusis (The sensitivity to certain sounds).

      I'll admit, I've been guilty of listening to music a few times louder than I should, but what kid doesn't? I've never made a habit out of it though. I've fired some .22LR & .22WMR rifles (only a few times) without hearing protection, although not good, they did not affect me like these handgun rounds did. This was a few years back. I'm just terribly worried guys. I am 20 years old & may have hearing loss & this ringing in my ears (If it's real & I'm not just imagining it) until the day I die. Please give me atleast some hopeful news, God knows I need it right now.

      I'm making an appointment with an Audiologist who also specializes in ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) though I don't know if I'll be able to get in this week. I mean, I'm highly doubting that I did serious damage & that this high frequency 'whining' will stay with me forever. The funny thing is, It's not a constant tone that I've read Tinnitus usually is, it's more of a tone that 'radiates' off of certain objects (computer speakers, tv) most of the time I can't hear it in silence.. weird. Today seems a bit better though. Anyways, Thank you everyone. I'm just very concerned & trying to get some helpful advice. - Dave.

    2. #2
      Member high pockets's Avatar
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      Are you seeing an ENT or an Audiologist? ENT is an MD, I don't know about an audiologist. Whichever, I am sure they will get you an answer. I know this advice is probably useless, but try not to think about it. There is nothing you can do except protect against further issues. Until you get to the Dr, there is nothing you can do except to wear hearing protection if you know you will be subjected to extreme noise.

    3. #3
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      the key is to shoot yourself deaf ASAP so that you can always shoot without ear protection. Thats what the hardcore pros do. lol but in all seriousness, i am no professional but have experienced similar things to what you are describing and for me it has always been just a temporary thing that went away, but if you are worried, it wouldnt hurt to have it checked out.

    4. #4
      Member ozzy's Avatar
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      I'm an ex metal head sound engineer so I'm ruined.

    5. #5
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      its possible with the tinnitus. i have it. not sure about the sensitivity though. i have shot a lot with and without hearing protection(never used it while hunting, 90% of the time while at the ranges) and do experience the ringing. like what high pockets said, get to a doctor. they'll be able to tell you for certain. i know my hearing is fubar'd from my younger days of no hearing protection and i am kinda payin for it now, and i'm only 26

    6. #6
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      You are young. You can do a few stupid things and your body will heal itself. It is very doubtful you have done permanent damage. Get your own ear protection. For a range you need the muffs. You may only shoot .22's but a guy will come in and start shooting a .45 next to you. For hunting get the kind that close on the pressure wave.

    7. #7
      Member AirForceShooter's Avatar
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      I'd be more worried about the music than a few shots.
      I've been in firefights and still have my hearing.

      AFS

    8. #8
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      This is the best I've seen on the subject of noise induced hearing loss: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

      My understanding is that you need prolonged exposure to loud noise or a single huge "boom" to do the damage you are worried about.

      Don't go to an audiologist; go to an "ear, nose and throat doctor". This should be covered by your medical insurance. Visits to the audiologist are not (though they may promise you that they are--they are, after all, trying to sell you a $3,000.00 hearing aid).

      I've been through that often enough not to have much faith in audiologists. They are the functional equivalent of a optometrist--who can dispense glasses but are not medical doctors.

    9. #9
      Member kg333's Avatar
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      Ditto to Packard. My understanding of the subject is that you can experience short term symptoms of ringing and difficulty hearing after loud events, but that your hearing will return with a little time. However, continued and repeated exposure can and will cause permanent damage (even those .22s given long enough).

      I suspect the ringing will go away in a bit, but I'd still recommend getting some ear protection. $15 at Walmart to save your hearing...what's a couple mags of ammo less in the long run?

      KG

    10. #10
      Member TheReaper's Avatar
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      When I was young and not too smart I used to shoot a .44 mag without hearing protection and today I have a 40% hearing loss. You should be OK but don't make a habit out
      of not wearing protection.

    11. #11
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      Dave;
      If you hear "ringing in your ears," tinnitus, you have already caused damage to your hearing apparatus.

      If you are very, very lucky, your hearing will cure itself.
      If luck isn't with you, you will have permanently lost some amount of high-frequency hearing.

      I wear hearing aids.
      It took exactly six shots with a .45 ACP semi-auto, to destroy my hearing.

      I hope that you have good luck with your ears, but please learn the valuable lesson and never shoot without hearing protection, and eye protection as well.

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
      Dave;
      If you hear "ringing in your ears," tinnitus, you have already caused damage to your hearing apparatus.

      If you are very, very lucky, your hearing will cure itself.
      If luck isn't with you, you will have permanently lost some amount of high-frequency hearing.

      I wear hearing aids.
      It took exactly six shots with a .45 ACP semi-auto, to destroy my hearing.

      I hope that you have good luck with your ears, but please learn the valuable lesson and never shoot without hearing protection, and eye protection as well.


      The wearing of hearing protection and glasses is so basic to the sport that it should not require repeating. Always wear both. If the muffs are too hot in the summer, then wear the earplugs. If you don't need eyeglasses normally, then wear the yellow shooting glasses. They increase contrast and make shooting easier.

      There is never an excuse for skipping either.

      And always wear your seat belts (and listen to your mother).

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by AirForceShooter View Post
      I've been in firefights and still have my hearing.
      Yeah, but you have auditory exclusion working for you in a firefight.

      OP--It's possible that you did damage, and it's possible that your young body will heal. Go to the doc, see what he says. and for Christ's sake get some hearing protection.

    14. #14
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Packard View Post
      The wearing of hearing protection and glasses is so basic to the sport that it should not require repeating. Always wear both...

      And always wear your seat belts (and listen to your mother).
      ...And change your underwear.
      You never know when you might have to go to a doctor.

    15. #15
      Member DanP_from_AZ's Avatar
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      When bird hunting as a child, and then as a teen, I NEVER used ear protection. Neither did my Father.
      We were just ignorant back in the '50's. A hell of a lot of ducks, pheasants, and grouse passed around
      our table.

      After I got my first engineering job, I went drag-racing for a couple of years. And, then became one of
      the folks helping to "run the show". When standing between two "funny cars" or two "top fuelers", the
      choice was to hold your hands over your ears. Or hold your handerchief over your mouth/nose.
      I chose to try to not inhale nitromethane fumes.

      So, I have been totally crazy about "sound" and have survived for 68 years without needing hearing aids.
      I call that both really stupid, and really lucky. YMMV.

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