Hearing Protection

Shoot! Bang!…Ouch! My Ears are Ringing!

Why protect your ears?

Noise exposure is well documented to cause hearing loss. Guns, power tools, motorcycles, and football crowds are uncomfortable, and they often fall in the 90-140 dB range. What is available to help you hear while still protecting your hearing?

Plenty of options

There are many products to protect against noise exposure. These products range from foam plugs, custom noise plugs, to high tech electronic custom molded devices for the serious shooter. The investment to protect hearing can range from a few dollars up to $1000+. While there are many products on the market, it is the professional component that is often most important: monitoring hearing, exactly which type of device to use, and how to use and care for your system. Audiologists can help!

Some great choices

Defend Ear: ($500–1,200/pair). These are a true investment for the frequent shooter and dedicated woodworker. Reports are extremely positive because they allow you to hear and shut down when the noise starts. They act in real-time to protect your ears as soon as the  gun fires or the power tools start up. These are electronic devices that require batteries. They can be custom molded for maximum protection and flexibility. There is also an instant-fit type of protector, depending on the investment.

Custom Plugs: ($100–200/pair). There are various levels of custom-molded noise plugs. Some are basic molded plugs.  Others have filters to accommodate different situations (e.g. musician’s plugs).  These are all very effective at protecting the ears. There are no batteries for these products.

Over-the-counter products: (<$5-10/pair) Examples include: foam earplugs, ear putty, or silicone noise plugs. Noise muffs (<$40) can also be included in this category. These plugs are the most difficult to get placed correctly in the ear. The actual amount of hearing protection varies tremendously based on the ear canal shape and size.

Please be gentle on your ears

Consider your ears’ health this fall while you are hunting, attending football and hockey events, using the leaf blower, using power tools, going on motorcycle rides, and taking care of noisy children or grandchildren. Those little things you do today to keep yourself healthy do pay off!

Hearing Aids

More Tips for Phone Communication

Good phone suggestions

A common issue for those wearing hearing aids is being able to hear well on the telephone. My clients over the years have typically done any of the following:

• Leave their hearing aids on and are able to hear well on the phone
• Remove their hearing aids to hear their best on the phone
• Use the speakerphone so that they can benefit from binaural hearing while on the phone
• Hear their best on their mobile/cellphone because the volume can be increased more than their home phone
• Connect wireless hearing aids to their phone for binaural streaming of calls

But they don’t work for everyone

For some individuals, the tactics above don’t offer a solution, and they continue to ask for something to help them better hear and understand friends, family, healthcare professionals, and unfamiliar callers.

This is often due to the fact that, with their particular hearing loss, they detect speech at more normal levels with their hearing aids but have poor word comprehension as a symptom of their loss, and they require visual clues to the conversational topic.

Historically, we have only been able to offer a TTY (tele-typewriter), which works through a special telephone company operator who types what is being said for the person with the hearing loss. Although a wonderful solution, it has its limitations — particularly for those who do not speak English or who have difficulty reading the typed message.

New video phone technology can help

We now live in a wonderful era of technology that allows us to have both auditory and visual cues when talking on the phone, with things like FaceTime® and Skype®. These can be used on mobile phones, tablets, and computers (desktop or laptop). The sound can be transmitted to hearing aids with wireless capability (if not wireless, hearing aids can still function like a speakerphone), and you can see the person who is talking. We strongly urge even those who are not tech savvy to consider this option — family or friends can help set this up so that it is simple and easy to use.