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Acoustic damage from gunshot
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Acoustic damage from gunshot

Approximately 6 weeks ago I was in a position where I suffered acoustic trauma from a rifle shot. The eardrum was not damaged but immediately after I felt dizzy and unbalanced. I was diagnosed with Sensoneural damage in my left ear also indicated by the audiogram which showed steep loss (80dB) in hearing above 3 kHz. Since the accident I have had tinnitus in my left ear, it is usually a straight tone but can vary from time to time, pain threshold is also noticeably higher. Also, from time to time I hear noises like metal rods touching eachother ...tinkling sound?

The intensity of the tinnitus tones diminished somewhat until I encountered a loud environment last week. Now the tinnitus intensity is as bad as it was initially. Besides staying away from noisy environments is there anything that can be done to minimize the ringing? Can I expect a gradual decrease in the ringing level from this point forward?

Has anyone else gone through this type of ear injury? I would like to hear other peoples experiences.
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20 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
lots of people have.  i would expect some of the intensity of the tinnitis to decrease, but I do not expect full recovery.
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Avatar_n_tn
It has been 3 months since my accident and the tinnitus is just as bad as it was initially. Over the xmas break it did seem to subside but now that I'm back to work in a noisier environment the amplitude of the ringing has increased. Besides wearing ear protection at work is there anything else I can do to reduce the tinnitus? I am scheduled for a MRI to see what damaged actually occurred but that may be some time away still.
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Avatar_n_tn
****. i had an accident 2 days ago where a bicycle tire exploded in my face. my ear has been ringing constantly since and the incessant high-pitched tone has not yet shown any signs of diminishing. i am already kind of worried about it but i guess it is too early to say. how long before i should really be worried?
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Avatar_n_tn
Reg. bicycle tire...

to the novice one would think that would be a pretty benign thing....    

But:

1) I have heard one of those go off, and I had to been about a mile away from the tire & it was still very loud

2) I once performed a hearing test on a physician that had damaged his ears pretty significantly from a bicycle tire explosion

acoustic trauma is pretty much a forever thing, but there are all types of variables to take into consideration so it is hard to predict outcomes
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Avatar_n_tn
yes they probably rival gunshots in volume. especially if it is right by your ear. well i guess i will just have to learn to deal with the ringing. my girlfriend heard some loud fireworks a couple of years ago and has suffered from tinnitus ever since. so i guess we have something else in common now.
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Avatar_n_tn
hahaha the @!#&)$#_$ tinnitus went away after a week. sometimes i think i can still hear it but i am probably just imagining it now. anyway i am going to the audiologist to have my ears checked in a couple days, just to see if there was any trauma. but still GOOD RIDDANCE
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Avatar_n_tn
I was being stupid and not wearing ear protection while shooting my .40 cal off.  I shot off 50 rounds and had the normal ringing in my ears after you hear a loud noise.  About 15 minutes later my right ear was back to normal, but my left ear has been ringing now for 2 days.  The weirdest part is that everything seems magnified.  When I hear a louder noise, it sounds like a blown speaker in my left ear.  I get a weird vibration and its feels very weird.  Has anyone else had something like this happen before? If so, how long did it last before it went away?
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Avatar_n_tn
A common thing with sensoneural nerve damage is that your threshold of pain is lowered. I think this is what you are experiencing. If you have fullness (feels like something is plugged) in that ear I would go see an audiologist to have your hearing tested. The ringing may never go away, it's hard to say until you know the damage (if any) that was caused.
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Avatar_n_tn
Well I had my MRI and there was nothing to be seen, no damage to the inner ear structure. Got a free brain scan out of the deal and the prognosis that I have sensoneural nerve damage in my left eye that nothing can be done about. I still have ringing in my left ear (tinnitus) and occaisionally in my right ear, sometimes it is unbearable and it drives my crazy. I gave up coffee this week to see if the ringing decreases, I'll try anything to lesson the amplitude which I'm guessing is about 40-50 dB at 4.12 kHz. My ENT specialist said I was the first case he's seen of acoustic trauma (160 dB) that did not cause any eardrum problems. It is now 6 months since my accident so I imagine the tinnitus is here to stay, I'll just have to find ways of lowering the sound.
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Avatar_n_tn
How do u know u were exposed to 160dB, did u have a sound level meeter near by?  A lot of folks are exposed to 170dB via car air bags going off and do not have ear drum problems.....   hearing problems yes....  but not necessarily baratrauma/perforated ear drums due to impact noise.

You may want to investigate what a hearing aid can do for you to compensate for the hearing loss & mask over the tinnitus...

I wish you luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
160 dB is an estimate based on other articles I have read. If I went back to the same area and placed a dB meter in the same location where I was, fired from the same rifle at the same location I could probubly get a more exact reading. I am investigating a hearing aid to see if that helps ...hopefully like you mentioned it can mask some of the tinnitus as well. I have also been fitted and ordered silicon earpieces which are supposed to attenuate ~50dB, a small hole is inserted in them to hear voice a bit better. These should help prevent future ear damage.
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152264_tn?1280358257
Not sure but the "blown speaker" effect in your ear might be something called recruitment. (W/a/J who posts here is an audiologist and will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong about that.) This can go with hearing loss. You'd better get a hearing test--and swear to wear ear protection forevermore when playing with guns, etc.

Nancy
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello all concerned with tinnitus,
I developed tinnitus after visiting an indoor shooting range several times and using a .223 rifle. It is a short barreled rifle and short barrels are louder than long barreled rifles. There were usually many other shooters using the range and you could actually "feel" the compression of the sound pressure waves from other rifles and handguns. My son and his friend were with me at the time and we had double protection, hearing muffs and foam plugs within the ears. Of course the kids have had no effects at all and loved the experience. My tinnitus is fairly loud in both ears and DOES NOT go away. I have a humidifier on at night because when it is quiet, the ringing can be irritating when there is no ambient noise. Here are the lessons learned:
1) Stay away from indoor gun ranges. Outdoor ranges offer more release and no echo of the sound waves.
2) Use a "compressor" on your guns. (They are expensive and require ATF approval)
3) Your inner ear can be damaged by "bone conduction". The sound waves actually traveling through the bones of your skull into the inner ear.
4) Tinnitus is likely caused by the death of tiny hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. If you are older you either have fewer cells to lose than young  people or they die faster when exposed to trauma. Thus, my son and his friend have no ill effects.
5) Protect your ears using foam plug s or muffs, when mowing the lawn, vacuuming, going to the movies (use plugs there) and protect what hearing you have left. Use a humidifier at night to mask the ringing and just get used to the fact that it most likely is going to be with you the rest of your life if you are over 40 or so.
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Avatar_m_tn
i just shot about 50 rounds of high caliber rifles/pistols (.357 and 9mm only) at a local "shooting range" in Honolulu, and I was wearing large plastic ear muffs. I still have huge ringing in both ears and should have worn ear plugs as well! It was only after leaving that I noticed they sold ear plugs for $2.50 at the counter. WEAR THE PLUGS AND THE MUFFS TOGETHER!! if you don't you will have the same problems I am now having. I also eperience a "blown speaker" sound in my left ear, from prior damage years ago (simply from too many loud rock concerts, I presume). I am 44 years old and am hoping I don't suffer further damage down the road. This is one annoying learning experience for me, and I feel like a dumabass for not wearing the plugs inside the muffs. UGH!! STUPID!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I am 28 and am having the same problem, when we went shooting the other day. My right ear is fine but my left feels as if it is blocked, clogged or plugged.

What should I do before making a trip to the doctor?

I already wear hearing aids as well.
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4430545_tn?1354480776
Always wear hearing protection.  I had a set of custom molded "ShootersEars" made for me at a local gun show.  $99 bucks and soo comfortable.  I went with the custom in the ear molded because earmuffs give me a headache because they squeeze the side of my head and they get in the way of my glasses.  Even the cheapish foam ear plugs are better than nothing.  
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535822_tn?1389452880
I go shooting at my local shooting range and I wear ear defenders, yet can hear some noise, I put cotton wool in my ears before I put on the defenders.One time I removed them too soon and the guys Gun beside me went off I too was dizzy for a short while but it did disappear quite soon, I already had tinnitus . So I think that your ears may recover with time .
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Avatar_n_tn
Well it's been 4 years since my hearing damage occurred. I still have tinnitus in both ears, the left ear being louder. I don't expect it to get better, the only thing I can do is not to let it get any worse. For all people using indoor firing ranges I would recommend ear plugs with ear muffs over top. Also, I have found that stress makes my ringing louder along with some prescription drugs.
Also noticed that I am having problems hearing people speak when in a noise filled room which is common for this type of injury. Even with loud tinnitus in my left ear I've never had an issue sleeping at night ...hoping that continues.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had something similar happen to me, except it was at a gun range.  A high power gun was discharged extremely close to my ear when I did not have my hearing protection in.  I thought I was going to lose my mind......it went on and on.  I really didn't see how I could live and tolerate the ringing.  The good news is be patient.  Have some type of white or brown noise when you sleep.  Always have some type of background noise on.  
A TV on low volume, or whatever.  AVOID loud or extremely noisy environments.  It drives me crazy when the lawn people come by, so I put in earplugs or headphones when they are here.  But you really don't want to be in dead silence, for that is when you focus on the noise.  You will just gradual become more habituated to the noise.  It will always be there if you focus on it, but it DOES, become manageable.  So......., give it time,  (Months),  it will die down or become less noticeable, avoid triggers that make the tinnitus ratchet up (loud noise, dead silence), always try to have a little background sound around you sleep with some type of noise machine or whatever to help you sleep.  I know it is not easy at first.  Everyone has some tinnitus.  They may say they don't, but put them in a dead silent sound booth for about 5 minutes and ask them if they have tinnitus when they come out.  Most people don't notice it because they tune it out.  Hearing loss usually happens gradually over time, but we sustained a significant loss suddenly.  So it will require more time for us to adapt.  But you will.  Think positive, BE PATIENT, avoid triggers, and DEFINITELY do everything you can to avoid any further acoustical trauma.
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm 33 and Ive had the ringing for a month now. I got it from Acute Acoustic Trauma a month ago - loud feedback in my ear-buds for a moment from too much volume on a recording device.  It only bothers me before going to bed,  but the ear to the pillow ( I'm a slide-sleeper) is most annoying. These are the things that help me now, after a month of being bummed out and readjusting to my new reality:

1) Regiment of quick ice cold showers. Especially before bed. This is an ancient practice that improves circulation, fights insomnia, and boosts immunity. After cold shower ringing decreases at night, when its most loudest, and the showers as hard as it is to do it, make me feel great afterwards. This is one thing Ive never seen recommended on Tinnitus forums, but help me personally.

2) Get your blood flowing and eat healthy. This decreases my stress, lowers my blood pressure and and promotes circulation.

3) I just heard about this and haven't tried it:  DIY Sound Pillow. Look it up. Insert headphone speakers into a pillow and play low volume soothing sound through it. You can also just buy one for $50.

4) Playing or listening to Glockenspiel lullaby's and rhythmic tones around the ringing frequency helps dampen the ringing.

Stay positive and have perspective and patience. With time the brain will adjust - and gradually it wont bother you anymore.

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