Experts recommend hunters use ear protection to prevent hearing loss

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As hunting season begins, 8News is taking the opportunity to talk about the health concerns associated with not wearing ear protection.

Many hunters say they don’t like wearing hearing protection while they hunt because it inhibits their ability to hear when an animal approaches. But many may not realize the hearing loss that can occur from just a few shots over the course of the day.

8News spoke with hunters who were practicing at a shooting range.

“I’ve been doing this all my life, so if my hearing’s going to go, I’m guessing it’s probably going to have gone already,” Jeff Lohmeier said.

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Megan McMahon, an audiologist at Prevea Health tried to describe why gunfire causes hearing loss.

“The gunshot’s going to be at a level that’s 140 decibels, which is essentially like standing next to a jet engine,” McMahon said.

McMahon said that noises this loud can cause instantaneous hearing loss.

“People think … one shot’s not going to do too much, I can get away with just that one shot, but we do know with a high-level noise, something that high, you can cause some permanent hearing loss just that one time,” McMahon said.

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Many hunters at the shooting range said they won’t plug their ears because they want to hear when a deer approaches.

“It’s a personal preference, some guys might [wear hearing protection], but it might take away from the hunting experience as well,” Jason Petrella, a Brown County Park Ranger, said.

McMahon knows she can’t convince all hunters to plug their ears, but hopes that she can save as many as she can from requiring hearing aids in the future.

“Once the damage is done in the inner ear, that’s a permanent type hearing loss, so it’s not going to regenerate or come back,” she said.

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