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Hearing Loss: Only You Can Prevent Brain Rot

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April 10, 2012

Hearing Loss: Only You Can Prevent Brain Rot

By David E. Petzal

In order to have some hope of conducting business with mankind in general, I wear hearing aids, but not very often, since I’m indifferent to what most people say, and I find that being able to hear all the little noises I had forgotten existed is annoying. But there is a problem with this. The first is that my hearing aids have memory, and when I go in for a checkup the audiologist plugs them into a laptop and they show how little I wear them.

This, the audiologist explained, is not wise. According to a study done at the University of Pennsylvania last year, “… declines in hearing ability may accelerate atrophy in auditory areas of the brain and increase the listening effort necessary for older adults to successfully comprehend speech.”

What this means in English is, that if your ears are f***ed, pretty soon your brain will be, too. And while your ears can get help from hearing aids, there’s nothing that can be done for your rotten brain. As the audiologist put it, “Once you start sliding down that slope, you’re in real trouble.”

I’m writing this for all of you who are getting on in years and are deaf and partly deaf, and all the young folks who are spending every waking hour with a plug in their ear listening to God knows what.

As they say in the military, “Be advised.”

Comments (35)

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from briarfire007 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

DP, I'm an audiologist. Had a patient in the other day. Mid 50's. Flew helicopters for the armed forces for 20 years. Never used hearing protection. His hearing is TRASHED. Last thing he said before he left the office was "I sure wish I had used hearing protection". Once the damage is done, it is DONE. Hearing aids get better all the time, but it is NOT a perfect fix. We'll never hear the same as we did with what the Good Lord gave us. I hope folks take your warning seriously. And thanks for advocating on an important issue for sportsmen.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm very bad about hearing protection. I spent a boatload on a pair of Sport Ears, and I wear them religiously at the range, but I just can't bring myself to wear them in the marsh because being able to pinpoint the exact location of little sounds is so crucial to spotting birds (and avoiding detection). I know I need to get it together. Sigh.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

When I was young and tough I stuck my head up between two J-79 jet engines of an F4 Phantom on the end of the runway to arm the weapons pylons and centerline fuel tank without hearing protection. Upon becoming a Conservation Officer I was assigned duties as the firearms Officer and spent countless days on the firing range. This on top of haveing shingles on the 7th craniel nerve going to my brain and damaging my right ear. Needless to say my hearing is junk. I do have state of the art hearing aids and wearing them is a pain. I don't wear them all of the time but after what you say I may wear them more. Like the audiologist said reguardless of how good your hearing aids are they aren't like the hearing that God gave you. I can't afford to lose anymore brain function so I guess I better wear my hearing aids. All of you young people out there don't try to be tough , wear your hearing protection even while shooting at a deer , elk of other big game. I wish I had made some better decisions but when we are young we think we are bullet proof.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Hearing loss is no joke!!!!!! It is a handicap just like blindness or loss of use othe hands or feet. there are quite a few people that should but do not use hearing aids for one reason or another. I wear one in each ear because I was too stupid to use hearing protection. I don't know about the part about brain damage, but hearing loss does damage your enjoyment of the great outdoors. Most hearing loss is a gradual process and a person doesn't even realize that it is happening until it is too late . the new hearing aids are great , but very expensive but then i would spend a million dollars to get my hearing back. Please tell all of you subscribers to wear hearing protection when shooting, they may thank you sometime.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dave, I mentioned this when you first floated out the thought awhile back as to whether you should get hearing aids or not. I've worn them for six years now. Yesterday I was screwing around in my workshop most of the day and decide that I just wasn't going to wear them due to all the brake cleaner and junk I was using to clean up a couple of shotguns. I ended up putting them in last evening, and the world really was a better place. I've taken the long way around to make my point to you, but as your audiologist can confirm (as mine did several times when I played the sometimes I will and sometimes I won't wear them game) that if you don't stimulate your brain to utilize and recognize the frequencies you've lost and your hearing aids are trying to restore, you will eventually lose all ability to hear those frequencies. Forever. So, my advice to you and all who wear hearing aids, as I do, be smart and wear them ALL the time, unless there is an obvious reason to not do so, like sanding drywall compound or the equivalent.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

NorCal Cazadoza: Try a pair of Walker Game Ear HD's. I've used them for three years when I hunt. You're only supposed to need one, but I find I get a better sense of direction (like when a turkey gobbles) when I have one in each ear. Sometimes you can get great prices on these from online merchants like Amazon. Wouldn't hunt deer or turkeys without them. They aren't super moisture friendly, though, so for waterfowl when it's raining, either wear a hat that will protect them, or just wear earplugs and rely on your eyes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I don't need hearing aids yet and hope that I don't. The constant ringing does get old at times.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bellringer wrote 2 years 1 week ago

EH, What's that you say sonny?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I have worn hearing aids for decades. When I first began wearing them the doctor told me the, then, technology was not good enough to help much, but even if I wore them with dead batteries my wife would not get mad at me. She, the doctor was right. Today's hearing aids are great and get better all the time.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Two old hunters got together, the first guy waxed poetic about how great his new hearing aid was. The second hunter asked what kind it was? The first chap glanced at hi watch and said "nine o'clock". Kindest Regards

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Oh, boy, fellas, I've shot guns since I was 6 and played drums since I was 2, and didn't start wearing hearing protection until I was in my 30's (I'm 55 now). I know I've lost significant hearing in my right ear (from a duck hunting teenager's shotgun muzzle blast right next to that ear, not my kid or he would have been doing push-ups in the mud and water until he was old enough to buy liquor) and worry about what I'm missing. I don't like wearing protection while hunting because quiet noises can alert you to approaching game,but if I don't get with the program, I guess I won't be hearing any of those sounds at all. I tried out some powered muffs and was amazed at how I could hear my buddy walking in the sand behind me. Glad to hear the Walker's are worth the rather steep price. Thanks, DEP, for reminding us once again to be safe and sensible.

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from 007 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dave, thanks much for this timely post. I am seeing this exact thing with my 88 year old mother, she struggles to keep up with most conversations. I foolishly sacraficed a lot of my hearing to KISS and Grand Funk Railroad 8 track tapes (young and dumb) years ago and today have tinitus (spelling?), a constant ringing in my ears. I have trouble hearing some things and I'm a lot younger than you are. I do very little without hearing protection anymore, I don't want to lose any more than I already have. You are spot on, as usual.

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from TED FORD wrote 2 years 1 week ago

PARDON ME,,,,,,,,,,COULD YOU REPEAT THAT,PLEASE.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 2 years 1 week ago

My audiologist told me that the "in the ear" type of hearing aid is a form of hearing protection in itself because of a cut-off mechanism at certain decibel levels.
I had never heard this previously, so now, instead of removing my hearing aids at the range to insert foam plugs, I just put on the muffs over the hearing aids and it sounds just the same as when wearing foam plugs under the muffs.
Aint technology grand?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fitch270 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

tunadave: I've had my hearing aids three weeks tomorrow, thanks in part to your earlier comments you mention. The world is indeed a better place with them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from davycrockettfv wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The "rotten brain" is pretty simple to explain. You know the saying "use it or lose it". Well to a certain extent, that's true of our brains and the neural connections contained therein. Our brains are constantly forming new connections (when we learn and make new memories, etc.), but are also getting rid of some of the connections we don't use or aren't efficient. So if you don't let your brain get some hearing "exercise", it will, as your audiologist said, require more effort to hear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 1 week ago

This subject, I know from where I speak, Take it from someone who lost most of his hearing early (like in my late 30's) from a genetic condition (and I now have permanent brain rot) . The LOUD tinnitus is terrible, but not hearing a bird sing in the spring is much worse. There are other brands other than Walkers, and I have tried them, but Walkers is still the best and they back their warranty 100%. I was actually turned onto Walkers over 12 years ago, by an Ear surgeon (guy that replaces inner ear parts) who was an upland bird hunter. Most professionals, before him told me to give up firearms, period. Get a pair of Walkers, and wear them when afield. You can also find them with STEEP DISCOUNTS on their internet site, just before hunting season. At least I have.

However; There is no help for my constant brain rot, but at least my brain rot is not as bad those who watch dancing with the stars and housewives of wherever.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tigerbeetle wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I wear hearing aids for all the good reasons listed above. I got HAs, as I call them about 5 years ago at 65. But, I don't wear them when I am in adverse conditions. Sweat, rain, water, etc. can ruin a pair of $5000 hearing aids in a heart beat. I wear hearing protection if I am mowing, shooting, using the weedeater,etc. but not when sweating is involved. Sometimes practicality has to come to play, unless you have an awfully deep pocket. When these wear out I am going to have to plead my case to the VA because I can't afford another pair. Tigerbeetle

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from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

fitch270,
I'm glad I could be of help. I can't believe the years I suffered trying to understand what folks were really saying and not able to hear the sounds in the woods; deer snorting, turkeys clucking and yelping, birds, even squirrels. I just got a brand new pair of high-end aids about six weeks ago, because I need greater adjustability to compensate for my recent severe reduction in speech recognition, which was no longer possible with my old ones. These are behind the ear, very powerful, and smaller than my old ones. And expensive, but worth every red cent. Almost unnoticeable too, if you're concerned about appearance but I'm way past the point where I care if someone notices I have hearing aids or not. Life wouldn't be impossible if I didn't have them, but it surely would be tough. Not being able to hear is frustrating at the very least.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I guess I should have been wearing hearing protection most of my life. I mowed everyone in the neighborhoods lawn when I was 12, and was driving tractors on the farm about the same time. Started shooting at 10, listening to LOUD rock music (thanks ted nugent) since I was 13, and then I got a job working in a millwork shop that had a stereo cranked all the way up just to drown out the machines..

My wife doesn't understand why I yell when I am talking to her and can't understand her on the phone. Strange thing is all my friends yell too so we converse well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

A hearty second to all the good advice above. I have some hearing loss, mostly from running machines without ear protection when I was younger and dumber. No hearing aids yet but I won't be surprised if I need them down the road. Wear the protection, you will not regret it!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from redfishunter wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm only 26 and I have significant hearing problems. All from not wearing earplugs when shooting. But the straw that broke the camels back was this previous duck season, when I took my young cousin duck hunting and he blasted my ear. Those were his first mallards. And he made a TRIPLE. I think it was worth it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Most rock musicians are getting deaf through all that high-pitched guitar and cymbal sound, amplified. Bass seems to have lesser effect, since it is heard mostly through the floor and up your legs, body and to your head.

What makes it worse, most of them also produce their songs or at least participate in production, which means they listen to it at full volume during the recording using monitor speakers or headphones.

George Martin, longtime producer of the Beatles, said in the interview of "In My Life" that he cut that album because he wanted to do it before he completely loses his hearing. And George didn't even perform, he was just a producer. Imagine how much deafer Pete Townshend is.

As Edward Nickens reported in F&S when he hunted red staf in Scotland, suppressors are required in the Highlands, to save the hearing of guides. (Not to poach, as is feared by those who prohibit their use in other countries.) It also happens that a high-quality, properly fitted suppressor enhances the accuracy of the rifle it's on, suppresses the flash and reduces the recoil. (This is beginning to sound like a shameless plug, I wish I have stock in AAC or Surefire.)

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

*red stag, not staf

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The current AR craze is going to increase the number of people suffering from hearing loss. Not only do they fire fast (autoloader, soft recoil, grin factor), but all those muzzle devices they put on (with fantastic claims of recoil reduction and flash suppression from the manufacturers) divert most of the sound sideways and back. They say jokingly that the AK-74 (the .22 caliber version of the AKM/AK-47) took as many Russians out of Afghanistan as did the mujehadeen because some recruits fired the weapon with its muzzle close to their comrade's head.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dont think its just older folks that suffer from hearing loss. Im 45 and working in plants and shooting without protection has left me with a condition. I cant hardly hear any thing when there is alot of background noise. people have to look directly at me for me to understand. Take this warning seriously my friends.

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from GERG wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dont think its just older folks that suffer from hearing loss. Im 45 and working in plants and shooting without protection has left me with a condition. I cant hardly hear any thing when there is alot of background noise. people have to look directly at me for me to understand. Take this warning seriously my friends.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from davycrockettfv wrote 2 years 1 week ago

And all the young guys out there like me, this also applies to our ipods. The ear buds seal off your ear and really add volume to your music without you realizing it. These devices are the number one suspect in our trend of young people (teenagers even) with hearing loss.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 days ago

Well I'm screwed,,,,

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 5 days ago

My hunting buddy, Chris, and I were sitting on the porch at the camp, watching the breeze blow the treetops---

Me: "Sure is windy."
Chris: "No it isn't. It's Thursday."
Me: "Yeah, me too. Think I'll get a Coke. Want one?"

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cbanks wrote 2 years 5 days ago

Dave: This post and comments may do a lot of good for the folks who follow your blog.

I've worn "in-the-ear" hearing aids (Lyric) for four years, after a lifetime of shooting with inadequate protection, and they've pretty much restored my hearing to normal. They're inserted next to the eardrum by an audiologist, and you wear them 24/7 for 90 days or so, after which you pull them out, throw them away and the audiologist puts in a new pair. The secret (besides being invisible) is that you wear them ALL THE TIME--one problem about removables is that they're hard for beginners to get used to, and you tend to take them off when you should keep using them.

When I first got my Lyrics, there was so much sound I was confused and couldn't sort it out. Turns out that my hearing had been bad for so long that my brain had forgotten how to discriminate between what I wanted to hear and the rest of the ambient noise. Took me about a month, but my brain relearned, and now I can understand a conversation in a noisy room. Being able to hear normally again is wonderful.

Lyrics aren't for everybody, but they're fully programmable (by the audiologist before they're inserted), and the user can adjust volume, turn them down for sleeping (great when there's a snorer in the room) or even turn them off, when they make fine earplugs (no problem with a chainsaw!). All done with a little magnet.

But they're no substitute for using good ear protection while your hearing is still normal. Learn from the Geezer!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 4 days ago

@country road

Sure, bring my jacket, too, will ya?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HearingAidCentral wrote 2 years 3 days ago

I have been working in an Audiology office, in Toronto, for over 7 years and the biggest challenges is people not using their hearing aids. My strongest advice to any hearing aid user is to be patient with yourself and slowly start wearing your hearing aids at home. Once you are comfortable then go to more noisy situations such as a shopping mall. Also, if you are having issues don't wait for your appointment with your hearing health care provider call and ask to see them.
I know hearing aids are a hard adjustment to make but its well worth it. As you put it, "at if your ears are f***ed, pretty soon your brain will be, too."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

my grandfather was in the airforce for many years and never used ear protection, he wishes he did now

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Red Salas wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

I wear hearing aids. I got mine from the VA they dont plug them into computer.I guess they will start in the future.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from briarfire007 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

DP, I'm an audiologist. Had a patient in the other day. Mid 50's. Flew helicopters for the armed forces for 20 years. Never used hearing protection. His hearing is TRASHED. Last thing he said before he left the office was "I sure wish I had used hearing protection". Once the damage is done, it is DONE. Hearing aids get better all the time, but it is NOT a perfect fix. We'll never hear the same as we did with what the Good Lord gave us. I hope folks take your warning seriously. And thanks for advocating on an important issue for sportsmen.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

When I was young and tough I stuck my head up between two J-79 jet engines of an F4 Phantom on the end of the runway to arm the weapons pylons and centerline fuel tank without hearing protection. Upon becoming a Conservation Officer I was assigned duties as the firearms Officer and spent countless days on the firing range. This on top of haveing shingles on the 7th craniel nerve going to my brain and damaging my right ear. Needless to say my hearing is junk. I do have state of the art hearing aids and wearing them is a pain. I don't wear them all of the time but after what you say I may wear them more. Like the audiologist said reguardless of how good your hearing aids are they aren't like the hearing that God gave you. I can't afford to lose anymore brain function so I guess I better wear my hearing aids. All of you young people out there don't try to be tough , wear your hearing protection even while shooting at a deer , elk of other big game. I wish I had made some better decisions but when we are young we think we are bullet proof.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Two old hunters got together, the first guy waxed poetic about how great his new hearing aid was. The second hunter asked what kind it was? The first chap glanced at hi watch and said "nine o'clock". Kindest Regards

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I have worn hearing aids for decades. When I first began wearing them the doctor told me the, then, technology was not good enough to help much, but even if I wore them with dead batteries my wife would not get mad at me. She, the doctor was right. Today's hearing aids are great and get better all the time.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 5 days ago

My hunting buddy, Chris, and I were sitting on the porch at the camp, watching the breeze blow the treetops---

Me: "Sure is windy."
Chris: "No it isn't. It's Thursday."
Me: "Yeah, me too. Think I'll get a Coke. Want one?"

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dave, I mentioned this when you first floated out the thought awhile back as to whether you should get hearing aids or not. I've worn them for six years now. Yesterday I was screwing around in my workshop most of the day and decide that I just wasn't going to wear them due to all the brake cleaner and junk I was using to clean up a couple of shotguns. I ended up putting them in last evening, and the world really was a better place. I've taken the long way around to make my point to you, but as your audiologist can confirm (as mine did several times when I played the sometimes I will and sometimes I won't wear them game) that if you don't stimulate your brain to utilize and recognize the frequencies you've lost and your hearing aids are trying to restore, you will eventually lose all ability to hear those frequencies. Forever. So, my advice to you and all who wear hearing aids, as I do, be smart and wear them ALL the time, unless there is an obvious reason to not do so, like sanding drywall compound or the equivalent.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fitch270 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

tunadave: I've had my hearing aids three weeks tomorrow, thanks in part to your earlier comments you mention. The world is indeed a better place with them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 2 years 1 week ago

A hearty second to all the good advice above. I have some hearing loss, mostly from running machines without ear protection when I was younger and dumber. No hearing aids yet but I won't be surprised if I need them down the road. Wear the protection, you will not regret it!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from redfishunter wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm only 26 and I have significant hearing problems. All from not wearing earplugs when shooting. But the straw that broke the camels back was this previous duck season, when I took my young cousin duck hunting and he blasted my ear. Those were his first mallards. And he made a TRIPLE. I think it was worth it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cbanks wrote 2 years 5 days ago

Dave: This post and comments may do a lot of good for the folks who follow your blog.

I've worn "in-the-ear" hearing aids (Lyric) for four years, after a lifetime of shooting with inadequate protection, and they've pretty much restored my hearing to normal. They're inserted next to the eardrum by an audiologist, and you wear them 24/7 for 90 days or so, after which you pull them out, throw them away and the audiologist puts in a new pair. The secret (besides being invisible) is that you wear them ALL THE TIME--one problem about removables is that they're hard for beginners to get used to, and you tend to take them off when you should keep using them.

When I first got my Lyrics, there was so much sound I was confused and couldn't sort it out. Turns out that my hearing had been bad for so long that my brain had forgotten how to discriminate between what I wanted to hear and the rest of the ambient noise. Took me about a month, but my brain relearned, and now I can understand a conversation in a noisy room. Being able to hear normally again is wonderful.

Lyrics aren't for everybody, but they're fully programmable (by the audiologist before they're inserted), and the user can adjust volume, turn them down for sleeping (great when there's a snorer in the room) or even turn them off, when they make fine earplugs (no problem with a chainsaw!). All done with a little magnet.

But they're no substitute for using good ear protection while your hearing is still normal. Learn from the Geezer!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 4 days ago

@country road

Sure, bring my jacket, too, will ya?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HearingAidCentral wrote 2 years 3 days ago

I have been working in an Audiology office, in Toronto, for over 7 years and the biggest challenges is people not using their hearing aids. My strongest advice to any hearing aid user is to be patient with yourself and slowly start wearing your hearing aids at home. Once you are comfortable then go to more noisy situations such as a shopping mall. Also, if you are having issues don't wait for your appointment with your hearing health care provider call and ask to see them.
I know hearing aids are a hard adjustment to make but its well worth it. As you put it, "at if your ears are f***ed, pretty soon your brain will be, too."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm very bad about hearing protection. I spent a boatload on a pair of Sport Ears, and I wear them religiously at the range, but I just can't bring myself to wear them in the marsh because being able to pinpoint the exact location of little sounds is so crucial to spotting birds (and avoiding detection). I know I need to get it together. Sigh.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Hearing loss is no joke!!!!!! It is a handicap just like blindness or loss of use othe hands or feet. there are quite a few people that should but do not use hearing aids for one reason or another. I wear one in each ear because I was too stupid to use hearing protection. I don't know about the part about brain damage, but hearing loss does damage your enjoyment of the great outdoors. Most hearing loss is a gradual process and a person doesn't even realize that it is happening until it is too late . the new hearing aids are great , but very expensive but then i would spend a million dollars to get my hearing back. Please tell all of you subscribers to wear hearing protection when shooting, they may thank you sometime.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

NorCal Cazadoza: Try a pair of Walker Game Ear HD's. I've used them for three years when I hunt. You're only supposed to need one, but I find I get a better sense of direction (like when a turkey gobbles) when I have one in each ear. Sometimes you can get great prices on these from online merchants like Amazon. Wouldn't hunt deer or turkeys without them. They aren't super moisture friendly, though, so for waterfowl when it's raining, either wear a hat that will protect them, or just wear earplugs and rely on your eyes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I don't need hearing aids yet and hope that I don't. The constant ringing does get old at times.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bellringer wrote 2 years 1 week ago

EH, What's that you say sonny?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Oh, boy, fellas, I've shot guns since I was 6 and played drums since I was 2, and didn't start wearing hearing protection until I was in my 30's (I'm 55 now). I know I've lost significant hearing in my right ear (from a duck hunting teenager's shotgun muzzle blast right next to that ear, not my kid or he would have been doing push-ups in the mud and water until he was old enough to buy liquor) and worry about what I'm missing. I don't like wearing protection while hunting because quiet noises can alert you to approaching game,but if I don't get with the program, I guess I won't be hearing any of those sounds at all. I tried out some powered muffs and was amazed at how I could hear my buddy walking in the sand behind me. Glad to hear the Walker's are worth the rather steep price. Thanks, DEP, for reminding us once again to be safe and sensible.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dave, thanks much for this timely post. I am seeing this exact thing with my 88 year old mother, she struggles to keep up with most conversations. I foolishly sacraficed a lot of my hearing to KISS and Grand Funk Railroad 8 track tapes (young and dumb) years ago and today have tinitus (spelling?), a constant ringing in my ears. I have trouble hearing some things and I'm a lot younger than you are. I do very little without hearing protection anymore, I don't want to lose any more than I already have. You are spot on, as usual.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 2 years 1 week ago

PARDON ME,,,,,,,,,,COULD YOU REPEAT THAT,PLEASE.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 2 years 1 week ago

My audiologist told me that the "in the ear" type of hearing aid is a form of hearing protection in itself because of a cut-off mechanism at certain decibel levels.
I had never heard this previously, so now, instead of removing my hearing aids at the range to insert foam plugs, I just put on the muffs over the hearing aids and it sounds just the same as when wearing foam plugs under the muffs.
Aint technology grand?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from davycrockettfv wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The "rotten brain" is pretty simple to explain. You know the saying "use it or lose it". Well to a certain extent, that's true of our brains and the neural connections contained therein. Our brains are constantly forming new connections (when we learn and make new memories, etc.), but are also getting rid of some of the connections we don't use or aren't efficient. So if you don't let your brain get some hearing "exercise", it will, as your audiologist said, require more effort to hear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 1 week ago

This subject, I know from where I speak, Take it from someone who lost most of his hearing early (like in my late 30's) from a genetic condition (and I now have permanent brain rot) . The LOUD tinnitus is terrible, but not hearing a bird sing in the spring is much worse. There are other brands other than Walkers, and I have tried them, but Walkers is still the best and they back their warranty 100%. I was actually turned onto Walkers over 12 years ago, by an Ear surgeon (guy that replaces inner ear parts) who was an upland bird hunter. Most professionals, before him told me to give up firearms, period. Get a pair of Walkers, and wear them when afield. You can also find them with STEEP DISCOUNTS on their internet site, just before hunting season. At least I have.

However; There is no help for my constant brain rot, but at least my brain rot is not as bad those who watch dancing with the stars and housewives of wherever.

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from Tigerbeetle wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I wear hearing aids for all the good reasons listed above. I got HAs, as I call them about 5 years ago at 65. But, I don't wear them when I am in adverse conditions. Sweat, rain, water, etc. can ruin a pair of $5000 hearing aids in a heart beat. I wear hearing protection if I am mowing, shooting, using the weedeater,etc. but not when sweating is involved. Sometimes practicality has to come to play, unless you have an awfully deep pocket. When these wear out I am going to have to plead my case to the VA because I can't afford another pair. Tigerbeetle

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from tunadave wrote 2 years 1 week ago

fitch270,
I'm glad I could be of help. I can't believe the years I suffered trying to understand what folks were really saying and not able to hear the sounds in the woods; deer snorting, turkeys clucking and yelping, birds, even squirrels. I just got a brand new pair of high-end aids about six weeks ago, because I need greater adjustability to compensate for my recent severe reduction in speech recognition, which was no longer possible with my old ones. These are behind the ear, very powerful, and smaller than my old ones. And expensive, but worth every red cent. Almost unnoticeable too, if you're concerned about appearance but I'm way past the point where I care if someone notices I have hearing aids or not. Life wouldn't be impossible if I didn't have them, but it surely would be tough. Not being able to hear is frustrating at the very least.

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from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I guess I should have been wearing hearing protection most of my life. I mowed everyone in the neighborhoods lawn when I was 12, and was driving tractors on the farm about the same time. Started shooting at 10, listening to LOUD rock music (thanks ted nugent) since I was 13, and then I got a job working in a millwork shop that had a stereo cranked all the way up just to drown out the machines..

My wife doesn't understand why I yell when I am talking to her and can't understand her on the phone. Strange thing is all my friends yell too so we converse well.

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Most rock musicians are getting deaf through all that high-pitched guitar and cymbal sound, amplified. Bass seems to have lesser effect, since it is heard mostly through the floor and up your legs, body and to your head.

What makes it worse, most of them also produce their songs or at least participate in production, which means they listen to it at full volume during the recording using monitor speakers or headphones.

George Martin, longtime producer of the Beatles, said in the interview of "In My Life" that he cut that album because he wanted to do it before he completely loses his hearing. And George didn't even perform, he was just a producer. Imagine how much deafer Pete Townshend is.

As Edward Nickens reported in F&S when he hunted red staf in Scotland, suppressors are required in the Highlands, to save the hearing of guides. (Not to poach, as is feared by those who prohibit their use in other countries.) It also happens that a high-quality, properly fitted suppressor enhances the accuracy of the rifle it's on, suppresses the flash and reduces the recoil. (This is beginning to sound like a shameless plug, I wish I have stock in AAC or Surefire.)

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

*red stag, not staf

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The current AR craze is going to increase the number of people suffering from hearing loss. Not only do they fire fast (autoloader, soft recoil, grin factor), but all those muzzle devices they put on (with fantastic claims of recoil reduction and flash suppression from the manufacturers) divert most of the sound sideways and back. They say jokingly that the AK-74 (the .22 caliber version of the AKM/AK-47) took as many Russians out of Afghanistan as did the mujehadeen because some recruits fired the weapon with its muzzle close to their comrade's head.

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from GERG wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dont think its just older folks that suffer from hearing loss. Im 45 and working in plants and shooting without protection has left me with a condition. I cant hardly hear any thing when there is alot of background noise. people have to look directly at me for me to understand. Take this warning seriously my friends.

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from GERG wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Dont think its just older folks that suffer from hearing loss. Im 45 and working in plants and shooting without protection has left me with a condition. I cant hardly hear any thing when there is alot of background noise. people have to look directly at me for me to understand. Take this warning seriously my friends.

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from davycrockettfv wrote 2 years 1 week ago

And all the young guys out there like me, this also applies to our ipods. The ear buds seal off your ear and really add volume to your music without you realizing it. These devices are the number one suspect in our trend of young people (teenagers even) with hearing loss.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 days ago

Well I'm screwed,,,,

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from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

my grandfather was in the airforce for many years and never used ear protection, he wishes he did now

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from Red Salas wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

I wear hearing aids. I got mine from the VA they dont plug them into computer.I guess they will start in the future.

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