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hearing loss after shooting range, is it permanent?
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hearing loss after shooting range, is it permanent?

So i went to a shooting range yesterday, and stupidly didnt wear hearing protection.  shortly after it was pretty hard to hear quiet noises, i had it in both ears, but more in my right, after about an hour, my hearing got a bit better, my hearing was back to normal in my left ear but still not back completely in my right.  it sounds like my ear is stuffed up, if that makes sense.  like i can hear things, even quiet things pretty well, it just seem like the pitch is off slightly on some noises. that and i have a ringing noise in my right ear.  

its now been about 20 hours, and my hearing seems slightly better than last night. but very slightly if anything. and something strange is if i plug both of my ears for maybe 10 seconds or so, then unplug my ears, it seems like i can hear quite a bit better, like pretty much normal hearing in my right ear, left ear is fine. ive heard from friends who experienced the same thing that it can last a couple days before it returns to normal. i just want to make sure i shouldnt be worried about more permanent hearing loss, or if i should go see a doctor.  i dont feel any pain or anything.

any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Avatar_n_tn
so i think i can describe this a little better after "analyzing" it all day.  the ringing sound is still there, doesnt seem to have gotten better.  its better since the hour of so after shooting, but about the same as it was that night and this morning. but sometimes i dont notice it at all, like it goes away and comes back, but part of that might be mental.

there is a raspy/ blown speaker sound in my right ear when i talk at a normal level, when i drove today, i tried to drive in the same environment that i did yesterday after shooting. the volume at the same level.  and i seem to notice the blown speaker sound a little more when im talking than others, the louder i talk, or the louder the radio, the more it seems to happen.



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152264_tn?1280358257
There is nothing a doctor can do for noise-induced hearing loss. With that noise exposure, you have already permanently damaged some of your hearing cells. They do NOT regenerate.

I hope your hearing continues to get better this time, but don't ever count on it coming back after such exposure. Wear your hearing protection ALL THE TIME. Even ONE episode of noise exposure can PERMANENTLY damage your hearing to some extent. The louder the noise, the shorter the time it takes to kill those cells, and the damage is cumulative over time.

Think of it this way, ear protection now is way better than hearing aids later! :)
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152264_tn?1280358257
P.S. You might want to get a hearing test, so you will have an idea what your hearing level is now, and see if you have any permanent loss. That might spur you to be very conscientious about hearing protection in the future.

I wonder if the "blown speaker" effect is recruitment, something that can happen with hearing loss.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the reply,

I looked up recruitment and i think, and hope thats not what im experiencing. from what it sounds like with recruitment it  can be hard to understand words, words can seem jumbled, and when recruitment occurs you perceive sounds as twice as loud, which isnt happening.  
My ear does seem a tad more sensitive than normal though.

I was discussing this with my parents yesterday, my dad is a doctor and mom was a nurse so i trust their opinions a bit.

We are thinking there might be swelling in the ear, which is either causing unequal pressure, or just the swelling alone is causing the buzzing/ blown speaker sound.

My mom who scuba dives a lot said she gets the same type of thing that has lasted a couple days, where there is unequal pressure, and things sound muffled, like you're listening through a door, and there is a buzzy sound to a lot of noises.  

ive experienced the same thing after swimming, but it usually recovers in minutes, hours at most. ive never given much attention towards it because i  know its not serious.  

swelling would also make sense because for maybe 10 minutes or so after shooting i didnt notice the buzzy sound, then it became noticeable, so that would the time it took to swell.

swelling or unequal pressure would also explain why when i plug my ear then unplug it, there is a split second where it doesnt seem to happen.

so anyway, im hoping its just swelling, my dad said it should take a week, maybe 2 to go away. if its unequal pressure, it should go away sooner as the ear gets less swollen, if the symptoms im having are from swelling alone ill just have to wait and see. im still seeing an EMT doctor today, ill definitely bring this up and see what he thinks.

i took some benedryl, as well as put vics in my ear and by my nose last night, and when i woke up this morning,  i hardly noticed it, but i was not talking very loud,  now that ive talked a bit today and had people talk to people, its still there, but it seems like its a little bit less. like it takes a tad louder sound to happen, and when it does happen its not as severe.  hopefully this is a sign of recovery.

id still like any advice anyone can give, its not over yet and im still kinda freaking out, since im not 100% sure. the buzzing while talking and listening to music makes it annoying and bothersome to listen to music, people, or even talk myself. the thought of having to live the next 4/5th's of my life being annoyed by sound is not a good thought to have.
One things for sure i definitely learned my lesson, i wont even think about shooting without hearing protection again, its not worth the risk.

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152264_tn?1280358257
One thing I can tell you, if the "buzzing" you are experiencing is related to some ear damage/hearing loss, it will probably settle down or disappear over time... after my sudden hearing loss I developed an extreme and annoying sensitivity to loud sounds in my good ear; stuff like that can happen as your brain tries to adjust to bad or diminished input from the damaged side. I thought it would never go away, but it did, although gradually, by fits and starts, and over maybe two or three years.

My elderly aunt had an ear surgery and kept hearing two particular songs in her ear for months afterwards. It drove her crazy, but it calmed down and is now almost entirely gone.

Your brain does compensate for certain types of injuries, it just may take awhile. Don't assume you will be having this annoying problem forever; probably not. And hopefully you haven't lost a significant amount of hearing. (And clearly you have learned the hearing-protection lesson. :) Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
I went to see the EMT today and on the way there i listened to the radio, at the same volume i listened to it yesteday when i could hear a lot of buzzing, but today it was almost nothing, maybe a very tiny amount if anything.  when i was talking to the doctor it did it when he talked, but not too bad.  but like i said i still get it when i talk.  anyway, i dont seem to have any significant hearing loss, atleast nothing noticeable. i did a hearing test today online that went through a wide range of frequencies, did it with both ears open, then again plugging one at a time, i could hear all frequencies out of both ears equally as well.

the EMT did say that my problem is an inner ear problem, and is from damaging my inner ear. he said that since its improved slightly already, give it a couple weeks and see, it could be gone completely. but its never for sure. he gave me steroids, and im taking a lot of vitamins, vitamin a, c and e, and magnesium. which a lot of people say can stop and help hearing loss, as well as acetyl carnitine,alpa lipoic acitd, glutathione, and coQ10.  which was said to help stop and reverse, hearing loss. (if thats possible)  just thought i might as well try!

anyway i hope you are right. if i do end up with a somewhat permanent buzz in my ear, hopefully my mind just gets used to it.  i was reading about  recruitment, and after awhile your ears just learn to adapt to what they have and can fix the hearing loss.(though that was more talking about loosing the ability to hear certain frequencies)

anyway thanks for your help! i really appreciate it!
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Avatar_n_tn
one more question, are there any medications other than what im taking (vitamin a,c,e, magnesium, acetyl carnitine, alpa lipoic acid, glutathione, c0q10. and a steroid prescription from the doctor) that i could try?  any change in my diet? or anything else i could do to increase the chances of recovery?

ive heard of hyperbaric oxygen therepy used for hearing loss and tinnitus. i know now might be the time to try something like this since i havent given much time to see how i will recover.  but the treatment makes sense, i could see it being effective especially because im not experiencing a big hearing loss.  im willing to do a lot to increase my chances..
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152264_tn?1280358257
I don't really know anything about the supplements you are taking or the hyperbaric oxygen treatments (thought I've heard of it). I think all of these things are speculative and unproven.

The problem is that there simply are no good, proven treatments for hearing loss; even the steroids that your doc gave you (I'm assuming high-dose prednisone? like starting with 60 mg per day?) are not very well proven, and in any case I haven't heard that those might be helpful for noise-induced hearing loss (but rather if it's from an autoimmune cause).

In cases of sudden hearing loss, ENTs will often throw everything at it (steroids, antivirals, sometimes supplements) and hope something sticks. Because there just aren't any good proven treatments. Steroids are usually the best hope, but again, I've never seen anything suggesting they are useful for NOISE-INDUCED hearing loss. Usually it's just a matter of waiting and seeing what happens over the subsequent weeks. You get it back or you don't.

I don't know of anything else I can recommend to you... just wait and keep your fingers crossed! Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
ive done some research about the hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and i think it might be worth a shot. it makes sense to me and my dad whos a doctor too. he's used it to treat something that has a hard time healing.  the general idea is that your inner ear looses oxygen in the time following noise induced hearing loss, and this increases the amount of oxygen in your ear to 600% and it stays at a somewhat high level an hour or so after the treatment. the statistics within 10 days of hearing loss were decent, of those who did the treatment something around 55-60% of people recovered or significantly improved. and for those who didnt the number was around 35% recovery or significant improvement.
  your inner ear also looses blood flow after a noise induced hearing loss, and thats what the steroids, magnesium, and some other suppliments are supposed to help.  so i figure i might as well do all i can its not gonna hurt.

i may very well be over reacting, but id rather do as much as i can rather than ignore it. as far me and my dad can tell i caused very slight damage to my inner ear, as opposed to people who suffer actual hearing loss. so if what is damaged in my ear isnt damaged as significantly, theres a better chance for recovery.  obviously neither of us are ear specialists, but it makes sense, at the least it can keep me positive.

anyway the doctor gave me a 40mg daily prescription to prednisone. do you think he could/should up it?
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Avatar_n_tn
well i just talked to two ex- marines today, both of them said they experienced the same thing multiple times.  said they shot for two years almost all the time without ear protection, including cannons, and their hearing is fine now.  one even said he got knocked out and lost his hearing completely for two days from a cannon blast.  they said the buzzing im hearing is because the hairs in my ears are laying down flat and not picking up sound in their normal way.  its supposed to go away in about a week.  

anyway sure makes me feel better about this. i still want to do whatever i can to help my ears recover, almost more so i do as little cumulative damage to my ears as possible.  
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152264_tn?1280358257
If you can afford the oxygen therapy and anything else, yeah, why not go for it? Anything that doesn't hurt. Better to try everything while the chances for recovery are better (i.e., earlier).

I did not know about the inner ear losing oxygen after noise-induced hearing loss; I am definitely not an expert and haven't done any (lay) research lately, but I thought those little hair cells in the cochlea are immediately broken beyond repair by excessive noise. But as I said, I'm only remembering some stuff I heard or read a long time ago.

I don't know whether you should ask the doctor to up the prednisone; since it was an ENT who prescribed it, the chances are he's up to date. The main recommendation when it happened to me many years ago was starting at 60 mg per day, but only for 3 days, I think, after which you start tapering off, and again that dose was not set in stone or proven to be the best, I don't think. Prednisone is not good for you in some ways (blood sugar, bone loss, etc. if overused) so perhaps the doc has a good reason for the dosage.
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Avatar_n_tn
im no expert either but from what ive read it sounds like the hair cells die over time. they get damaged and either die, or regenerate. i think they can just die right away, and thats when you have a big perminant hearing loss, even then i think it takes time for them to completely die.
anyway ive read a lot of different things ranging from a couple weeks to a couple months is the time frame you have to regenerate those hair cells, a lot of the time it happens on their own, but if you act quickly you have a better chance.
and i think that is for noise induced HEARING LOSS, which i dont think im experiencing, or maybe just very slightly.  really it just seems to me like part of my hearing is not functioning properly.  ive done any online test i could find and i can hear all through the frequency range in both ears the same.  at quiet levels too.   and that part of my hearing thats not functioning properly is whats making the buzzy sound.
what the marines said makes sense, because i have literally spent like 10+ hours the last 4 days researching noise induced hearing loss, and i have not found one study or anything that mentions this buzzy/ broken speaker sound after noise induced hearing loss.  not sure what they mean by the hairs are laying down or if thats actually happening, but that would make sense as to why they arent functioning properly.  either that or the swelling in my ear is preventing those hair cells from functioning normally, or something like that.
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Avatar_m_tn
Any update on this?  I'm in your exact situation but am only at day four after my right ear hearing "trauma" caused after firing off a few rounds from a .380.  I'm on a steroid from an ENT and am praying for recovery.  I can't stop reading about the things I can do to help heal myself.  I don't think I'll even mow the grass again with out hearing protection!  I would love to hear how your recovery is 6+ months later.
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Avatar_m_tn
Any update on your situation, has it gotten any better, completely gone? Similar situation here and it has been a week.
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Avatar_m_tn
Has your ringing stop I've had it for 3 days straight I can hear now but the ringing doesn't stop
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Avatar_m_tn
Just shot a few rounds off some last night, and got the exact same muffled "stuffy ear" thing going plus the tinnitus ringing, but only in my left ear (odd, I shoot right handed). Shot a simple 9mm in a clearing in the deep woods at a friends property.

Last time I shot without ear-pro the muffled ear and ringing lasted about an hour or so, but now I'm on 8 hours and still no change. All I want to know is about how long did the muffled stuffy ear part last, since that bothers me the most that only one ear is fine and the other is plugged up (the feeling and sound, I mean). I honestly can care less about the tinnitus, I already intermittently experience it in either ear since I have been 3, and I'm now 25, so I'm used to it.
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Avatar_m_tn
O2 treatment....not likely. I have literally thousands of chamber runs ( commercial diver) with high PP O2 and they have done nothing to help my damaged hearing. You have fried some of your hearing, accept it and take steps not to be ,frankly, so stupid in the future.
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Avatar_m_tn
O2 treatment....not likely. I have literally thousands of chamber runs ( commercial diver) with high PP O2 and they have done nothing to help my damaged hearing. You have fried some of your hearing, accept it and take steps not to be ,frankly, so stupid in the future.
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Avatar_m_tn
The histology of acoustic trauma hearing loss involves the damaged cilia cells of the inner ear swelling and becoming incompetent and eventually  after 6 months dying of hypoxia. Thir rehabilitation can occur naturally and spontaneously or through assistance by drugs and hyberbaric oxygen if intervention occurs early, less than two weeks from the traumatic event.
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow did not see all these replies, sorry I didnt update. anyways, yes my hearing did get better, back to 100%, at least as far as I can tell, i dont notice any negative effects.  

Took me over 2 weeks before the problems went away, I was given a steroid prescription, and took plenty of vitamins/supplements that are supposed to assist. If i remember right magnesium was the big one.

If anyone else has this problem, my advice would be to get a steroid prescription immediately, the sooner the better and after i believe 48 hours it doesnt have much effect. same with the magnesium and other supplements.

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Avatar_m_tn
I have experienced something similar. Went shooting (12 gauge) and .22. The ringing and the hearing was a lot worse after shooting, but now my hearing has almost returned to normal and I hear frequencies the same now but the ringing has not stopped, it has gotten better than it was 2 days ago. It's been 4 days now. What should I do?
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