It is well documented that exposure to loud noise can damaged the inner ear hair cells, leading to permanent hearing loss. Additionally, ear protection curbs such damage, yet many persons avoid such preventative measures when engaged in noisy activities. For example, studies show that close to 95% of hunters avoid hearing protection, but regularly expose themselves to high-decibel blasts.
Hunters tend to avoid hearing protection, citing that they do not fire that many rounds. However, all exposure to loud noise is potentially harmful, so hearing protection is critical to good auditory health. There are a variety of options available to the hunter and target shooter, including earplugs, earmuffs, and electronic noise-canceling devices.
Earplugs are an excellent option, but it is essential that you get a pair that fit properly and comfortably. If you find earplugs uncomfortable, try earmuffs that fit over the year, offering better protection and comfort. Finally, there are electronic earmuffs, which are noise-canceling devices that eliminate high-decibel noise, but allow the transmission of speech.
Hearing loss is not typically immediate. You lose hearing over time, after repeated exposure to loud noise. The deterioration you experience will not be noticeable in day-to-day conversations, but rather you will notice trends over time: needing to turn up the television or radio to higher levels, repeatedly asking others to rephrase their statements; and losing the ability to hear things from a distance (see hearing loss and lifestyle). The loss tends to be cumulative and, therefore, it is critical that all hunters make efforts to protect their hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss is not reversible. Wit hearing loss, your quality of life is affected, so take the time to find the right protection for you.
Source: BB Audiology