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Thread: Hearing Loss – A cautionary tale

  1. #1
    Regular Poster
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Leicester, Mansfield Grantham area

    Hearing Loss – A cautionary tale

    Hearing Loss – A cautionary tale.

    You have probably noticed that I have not been ‘on’ this forum or posted for quite a while and if I have missed a request or PM from anyone I apologise but recent circumstances have virtually precluded the use of my PC.

    In December I was fine and out shooting at least 3-4 times per week, for anything and everything over the 20,000 odd acres I have permission on locally but that all changed in the New Year.

    Mid January I had an ear infection, nothing serious, but one that needed antibiotics to clear it up. However, by the time my week’s course had finished I had started with Tinnitus – a ringing sound inside my head along with high blood pressure and constant headaches.

    Without going into too much detail suffice it to say the noise gradually became so loud I was near to being suicidal. The doctor was great and helped me organise immediate visits to various Consultants and clinics as well as arranging all sorts of tests, x-rays and scans only for me to find out that I don’t have a brain tumour, or a kidney tumour or any of the dozen or so other things that might just be causing the noise. It is, in their words, ‘Tinnitus, and I need to go away and learn to live with it as there is no cure’.

    The reason was not the ear infection –that was just the catalyst - but my loss of hearing that has happened over the years from shooting without proper protection.

    I didn’t realise at the time but without exception my own lack of concern for what I believed was a minor hearing loss was the opportunity for tinnitus to begin. The hearing tests have actually shown quite a significant hearing loss especially in the ear opposite to my shooting side and that is the underlying cause.

    For me the noise levels initially built up to very loud levels at a frequency of around 5800 MHz. For instance I could still hear it despite standing next to a very loud vacuum cleaner or over the noise of my vehicle on the motorway when driving on those horrid serrated concrete stretches – it was loud and was there 100% of the time. I was unable to sleep, to watch TV or even use the PC. In fact the PC and mobile / cordless phones still increase the noise inside my head sufficiently to make their use unacceptable most of the time. Over the last 3 months things have settled down a little to a loudness level of about 75% and the noise has changed frequency to around 8000 MHz and I also do seem to have perhaps 1 day in 3 or 4 when I find the noise is down to about 25% level. Better – yes ! but it is still making any semblance of normality impossible and I have only been out with a rifle 4 or 5 times since Xmas.

    As an indication of the noise level and type of noise try listening to different frequencies on this site:-
    Turn up your PC Volume top full and turn the site volume to about ½ way and that approximates to the noise levels inside my head for most of the time.

    I am in no way looking for sympathy as the reason for my predicament is all of my own making. The point of posting this thread is simply as a warning to others about something most of us just don’t appreciate could be happening to our hearing because it is so gradual and mostly unnoticed. Tinnitus, I understand, can and does hit those with hearing loss as would be expected from long term shooting without protection and I mean constant protection. I am not a Target shooter and therefore rarely shoot more than a handful of rounds at a time at any one time and usually it is single shots. In the field I have never worn protection because I could neither hear what was going on around me nor comfortably shoot with a headset on. I was also unwilling to spend £500 on a set of the digital ear inserts.

    I know most of you are the same as me and because of that fact alone I am telling you to start taking care of your ears. The hearing loss you may get from shooting is something you can easily live with – in fact it can be an advantage when the wife says it is time to wash up – but the onset of Tinnitus could be equally as devastating to you as it has been for me especially when you are told there is no cure.


    In the near future, I was intending to reduce the time I spend shooting so that my wife and I have the time to travel a little and spend more time together in our retirement. I had started preparing a small ‘For Sale’ list of shooting related items that I considered to be surplus to my expected requirements in the future. However, with my unexpectedly changed health circumstances it seems as if there will be even less shooting in the future than I originally envisaged and on that basis I have prepared a considerably larger list of 20+ pages of shooting, shooting related and ‘other’ things that it would be sensible to advertise given my present circumstances.

    As I explained above I will not always be able to use the PC on a regular basis so do not be perturbed if your mail is unanswered for a day or so. Whatever the delays please rest assured that all offers or shows of interest will be dealt with in a chronological order according to the date and time of the email received.

    Since there may also be occasions when my wife will have to be dealing with enquiries please do not use PMs or reply on this thread as your reply may well not be seen. Please always write direct to

    Anyone interested please email for a copy of the list.

  2. #2
    Sorry to hear of your condition, it reads like a living nightmare, scary stuff for all of us who shoot.

    I wear foam earplugs when I know I am going to be firing a few shots but do not bother the majority of the time when just pottering around or wildfowling. Maybe its time for me to reconsider.

  3. #3
    Sorry to hear about your hearing problems. I know its not funny when you get the ringing/ hissing in your ears. I've had it for years but not so bad as it causes me to much grief. Back in the 60s i used to shoot a lot of pigeons. I thought nothing of shooting 200 plus cartridges a day with out hearing protection. I started wearing hearing protection about 25years ago for while shooting clays or down the range with the rifle. Now i wear a pair of electronic ear muffs for all my shooting be it down the range or hunting. Like you 325wsm i have only my self to blame for ending up a deaf old git. Once your hearing is damaged its damaged for good. So for you young chaps out there shooting get that ear protection in use

  4. #4
    Hi M
    I recall you mentioned you had a problem when we spoke about your rifle, terribly sorry to hear it is so bad now, from how you were speaking I just thought it was a temporary thing.
    When I was younger I often shot a pistol without protection and my dad told me to not be so silly that it was important to protect your hearing as always we laugh at the aged parents lecture, however to shut him up I did buy some cheap ear plugs on his account I hasten to add
    I still suffer a little bit of ringing now but not on the scale it could have been and if I do shoot without occasionally if it's a fox after the chickens my ears ring for days after, so I am a convert and would never shoot without some form of ear plugs or muffs (no smart remarks about muffs Mr B before we even go there please )

  5. #5
    What a sad story, I'm very sorry to hear it. The tinitus thing is horrendous, I know a couple of mild sufferers and how it affects them. Yours is unimaginable and I wish you every good fortune for the future.

    I think it's a case of 'but for the grace of God' for most of us too.

    I have a small degree of hearing loss thanks to shooting clays every wednesday at agricultural college, plus pigeons, game, wildfowling etc, all without protection. Chuck in driving noisy old tractors for years plus more than a few very loud rock concerts and it's a recipe for disaster. Put me in a room full of, party etc and I'm just standing in the corner nodding and smiling inappropriately!

  6. #6
    I'm very sorry to read of your horrendous condition 325wsm. I have the occasional low whine in my ears which I think is Tinnitus; it comes and goes but more frequently as I get older. I was a Gunner in the Royal Navy and was often told that 'Ear duffs were for puffs'! It certainly makes me think now.

  7. #7
    i am sorry to hear of your troubles and as i read it i think of my ear problems i hav had as a child , from a very early age after contracting german measles it affected my eyesight and hearing especialy my glands
    so from the age of 4 glasses were worn and regular checks for my hearing as the doctor said i had perforated ear drums , so was not allowed to insert any type of ear protection or hearing device in my ear so ear muffs were worn this caused sweating and then ear canal inflamation (long live pennacillan , amoxycillan, amphacillan or any other cillan based drug the stronger the better) upto the age of 25-26 when i was referred to a specialist in birmingham from there he told me that i did not hav perforated drums and the infections i had were caused through stress so by worrying about things that made things worse but also said that the lack of protection through my life from shooting and lound music hav already took their toll
    the specailist has also recommended that i do not use inserts as that will cause me stress and inflame my ear canal which will inevitably bring on swollen glands so ear defenders are the way which get sweaty and brings on an infection,
    enjoy what you can of your life my friend
    tinnitus is a word that has been mentioned and something i now fear, but can do little to prevent as the damage is already done

  8. #8
    I am really sorry to learn of your problems. I can honestly say that you have scared the pants off me.
    I am 36 and have been shooting for about 25 years. I have been very lax at wearing ear defenders although everyone has told me that I should be wearing them. I have tinnitus all the time that I can hear all the time. In fact while I think about it, I can hear it over the TV now. I also have very regular headaches that I had never related to my hearing. This is obviously in no way as serious as your condition but was, until now, something that I swept under the carpet, me obviously being indestructible and all!
    I am going to start a thread under the equipement heading to see what suggestions people have for the best defenders.
    Good luck to you 325wsm. I hope that it calms down enough for you to be able to enjoy your retirement

  9. #9
    i am very sorry to here of you condition,my father was diagnosed as having tinnitus in his left ear several years back (working in heavy industry no ear protection) he did at first cosnsider been made deaf to stop the ringing . he has now learnt to live with the condition , some days are better than others.

    i do empathize with what and you family are going through, and hpoe you the best for the future......neil

  10. #10
    I have tinnitus. Got it shooting pigeons from under a tree with a 25 inch 12 bore, whilst at university. Well I had it before then but it was usually temporary. I remember the day that it never went away vividly and yet it was thirty years ago. My condition is not as bad as yours 325wsm but I do know what it is like to never hear silence. I always wear ear defenders now. It is genuinely unpleasant and I would very strongly recommend any shooter to do likewise.


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