Amarillo, TX - Noise-induced hearing loss is becoming more common in the Texas panhandle all because of a favorite past time.
Wise Hearing Solutions tells us 90-percent of their patients have a noise induced hearing loss, with a majority of those cases being from hunting or firing a gun.
That's why they are urging everyone to protect their ears in loud environments.
"If you were firing a gun, as soon as that gun goes off it's going to shut the whole thing down," says Burnie Stokes, Panhandle Gunslingers.
At Panhandle Gunslingers, wearing ear protection is not an option.
There are different types that more appropriate for different types of fire-arms.
"You know a lot of guys will say, 'they get in my way, I'm just going to go out here with the foam earplugs.' Well those will probably work with a .22 rifle or some of the smaller calibers but with your bigger hunting rifles, you really need something to protect the ear," says Burnie Stokes, Panhandle Gunslingers.
Area audiologists say even a single shot can have long lasting affects on your hearing.
"Gunfire can be as loud as 120-130 decibels. 85 decibels is kind of our limit to exposure, to where it becomes hazardous. When you're exposed for long periods of time to a loud sound, that's when it can cause damage to your hearing," says Diana Wise-McPherson, Audiologist, Wise Hearing Solutions.
Those using a shotgun or a rifle may have one ear more exposed than the other depending on how the gun is held, but noise induced hearing loss can affect both ears.
"Noise-induced hearing loss is a huge problem, we see probably one in three people have noise-induced hearing loss," says Diana Wise-McPherson, Audiologist, Wise Hearing Solutions.
Wise Hearing Solutions has also seen patients who develop a temporary shift in hearing which will cause a ringing sound or muffled noise in your ear.
In this situation your normal hearing will typically bounce back within a few days.
But once you develop any type of hearing loss, you cannot regain it.
You can only help slow down the process.
"If there is a chance that a hearing aid can be beneficial to help you hear better, that's fantastic. Anytime you're exposed to loud noise and you have a hearing loss, your chances are greater that you're going to lose more hearing. So protect what you have and wear your hearing protection," says Diana Wise-McPherson, Audiologist, Wise Hearing Solutions.