Shooting Range Hearing Loss - Info PLEASE

Sorry - long…
70 years old. Went to indoor shooting range for 2nd time ever. Some old age hearing loss already but not bad.
As I recall I probably walked into room while putting plugs in and heard a REALLY loud bag. Proceeded to shoot for 45 minutes…no judgement please.
Came out - NOTHING but static. NO recognition of sounds.
Got progressively better. Went to urgent care day 3 and was told it may or may not improve - nothing to be done. I asked about steroids and was blown off.
Went to Oto doctor + audiologist day 10. By that time I could hear volume OK but had (have) a really hard time discerning words. TV + wife too much to process. Have to turn one or the other off. :wink: Can talk on the phone pretty good but difficult if not very good connection - common these days. Dr. gave prednisone which I think is helping continue slight progress.
This is day 17…Symptoms;

  1. Some static at times still. Seems to be when distant / not loud /speech which I normally might not understand but now static. Not often these days.
    2 Hard discerning words even when volume is sufficient. Biggest problem.
  2. Like a phone ringing under water when I - hickup / burp / suppress a burp ? sometimes swallow / etc.
  3. Very slight high pitched ‘tone’ when I shake my head back and forth - (like NO). Noticed in shower - now just testing.
    Can anyone help me understand exactly what happened to my inner ear to cause these symptoms?
    Obviously, I would like a prognosis but realize probably nobody knows.
    Audiologist on day 10 said I had 35% deficit on one measure and 85% deficit on other. Severe word recognition. He said if it remains that severe hearing aids could help some but not as much as in lesser cases. Makes sense as at this time an increase in volume does not help with word recognition.
    My current plan is to continue taking some supplements I read about - a couple more days of prednisone - and see where I am n 3-4 months as far as hearing aids or other measures??
    Good insurance.
    Sorry for length but just looking for any information, opinions etc. that might help me understand what I did to myself, what might help and what I might expect in the future.
    Thanks so much, David

Before I give my take, I’ll give a bit of my background. We all view the world through different “lenses.” Retired RN with various experiences with a lot in cardiology. Hearing aid user for almost 4 years. No training in audiology. My take is that you severely damaged the fine hairs in your cochlea due to loud noise exposure. They don’t regrow. However I do think you will perceive some improvements over time. I don’t think this is due to the damage healing but due to the brain’s incredible ability to adjust to new situations. I would get hearing aids as soon as audiologist/ENT says it’s reasonable to do. You have lost the ability to hear a lot of sounds. You don’t want to give the brain too much time to get used to not hearing them. Welcome to the forum


Being a shooter myself, I know what gun ranges are like. Don’t want to dwell on the subject because what is done is done but, Where was the Range Officer? They should have been aware that someone had entered the range and wasn’t already the correct PPE and should have called “cease fire”

I’m not an Audi or medical professional, but I recommend getting the best hearing protection you can buy if you intend to keep shooting, you need to protect what you have left.

My hearing loss isn’t noise induced, I know the feeling of having HA’s that help with everything but speech recognition. My speech recognition is 68% in the right and 37% in the left.

And as MDB said, Welcome to the forum.


It may be more than just the hair cells. Quite often the synaptic connections between the hair cells and the auditory nerve are damaged. Sometimes the hair cells recover but the synapses don’t. If you are getting distortions in sound and difficulty in word recognition- especially in noise- that might be part of the puzzle. Google on ‘synaptopathy’ if you want to explore that possiblility.

I’ve read over the years that antioxidants may help with synaptopathy, even after the trauma. I had a very quick search and found…,before%20and%20after%20loud%20noise.

I don’t think anyone is going to claim that this is going to magically restore what you’ve lost but, why not? Anti-inflammatory supplements are sometimes suggested as well. Again, I don’t think too many doctors are going to lead with this, but…


I am 73 I go to the range almost weekly, I wear earplugs and the max over he ear protection I can find. I am a reserve backup officer here in our little community. I also have hearing issues. I have my hearing protection on before I leave my vehicle. When I am on the range I can almost hear the person next to me fire his weapon. To be honest I feel it more than hear it. The key is to use the most protection you can find.

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First - done with shooting. I’m me - never been much for ear plugs or eye protection when using (for instance) chain saw etc. I think that has changed. I do value, and have new appreciation for, my senses.
Thanks so much for the replies and information. I’ll be looking into synaptopathy. I find the ‘ringing’ while swallowing of interest and kinda think there’s more going on than just damaged hairs…I do believe that the brain will adjust to some extent beyond the mechanical damage done.
Thanks again! Any more input much apprciated.

Have you had an audiogram test done?
If you have get another one and see if your hearing is holding, getting better or worse. The tests will tell which direction you are going. If you find you do have a significant hearing loss hearing aids are the way to go.
A bunch of us here on the forum deal with tinnitus. Tinnitus in my opinion is proof of hearing damage. Hopefully you will recover and get most of your hearing back.
Good luck

Thank you so much for that important article. I posted it on my Facebook page. Everyone should be cognizant of the fact that antioxidants can offer some protection.

My son lost some of his hearing after just one month at a small airport with no ear covering at all. His wife noticed it.

You’re welcome, but I don’t want to over-sell it. The best form of hearing protection is actual physical protection.

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Perhaps then you’d already suffered a good deal of hearing loss before the shooting range incident until that event sensitized you to your hearing perceptions. I can dig up a link on tool-induced loss but most carpenters who don’t wear hearing protection have in their 20’s the hearing of a person in their 50’s (or worse). The noisy tools over time can do much the same damage as gunshots at some distance - they just do it more gradually. I wonder how much, for people in general, the “I think I’ll look silly if I wear ear protection and I won’t be able to hear conversations - I’ll be so alone” - factors into decisions to wear/not to wear ear protection. Sometimes we let cultural things and convenience outweigh the preponderance of evidence.

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Thought you wore custom ear molds, per previous posts. If that’s the case then you really don’t need ear protection. Just turn your aids off and you have the perfect ear plugs. Way, way better then earplugs.

My ear molds have vents, that can let in way to much sound

Talerco - Sorry for your hearing loss but on the positive side it didn’t happen when you were twenty or thirty years old. I’d take things slow for a while and get repeated hearing tests to see if any thing changes over a two, three month period. There’s a chance some of your hearing might come back - also a chance it doesn’t. But I’d hold off getting hearing aids until you’re sure your hearing level has stabilized at what ever level it ends up at.

I think you will find improved word recognition in you better hearing ear - with a new hearing aid. And remember what ever aid you do test - you can trial it for two months or so and then decide to keep or return. Good luck.

As the name implies, custom earmolds are made custom to fit the unique contour of your ear. If you cannot get a comfortable or secure fit with off-the-shelf earplugs, custom earmolds may be for you. They offer some of the best hearing protection available. And a small mold vent (which allows) air movement between ear canal - won’t impact the overall protection of the custom mold. Be it hard acrylic or silicone.

Thanks so much! I am optimistic and will give it a few months to settle into a new normal before deciding on longer term fix (assist).

My hearing aids are extremely comfortable and do their job for me to hear and understand speech. But for me to shoot then I need protection and not hearing. I want ear plugs have completely block out sound. I want to save as much of what I have left as possible. And don’t want to also take a chance of blowing my ads either.

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Exactly! When I shoot, I turn my hearing aids off and put hearing protection over the ears as added protection…no sense risking residual hearing.


I never go into the range until my hearing protection is already on. I don’t wear ear plugs. I wear a headphone type device over my hearing aids. My audiologist says because of the severity of my loss my ear molds would protect me from the sounds of gunfire. I’ve never left the range with any kind of hearing problems. I’m thinking the plugs you’re wearing aren’t doing an adequate job. Might want to go and get tested to see if there is any further damage. Might want to look into something better than just ear plugs. And who’s going to judge that you went to a range? Is that illegal?

WoW~ We are a pair! My hearing loss is so close to yours it’s incredible! My problem now is that everyone’s voice including mine sounds like they sucked on a helium balloon before talking!! Cognition is horrible~ Have been trying for 2 years to fix the problem. I am now convinced HA can’t help with comic strip talk.

Thanks so much. Your message is really appreciated - if not terribly hopeful. I want - and will have to deal with - facts.
I’m going to private message you later today or tomorrow…ciaotebaldi / perhaps we’ll take this off group.
I’m not to the full on helium thing but on the cusp and know exactly the sound.
I am 3+ weeks in. If you recall, did you get any improvement after that time?
I certainly can’t point to improvement day by day but it does seem I am able to listen to TV better than a few days ago.
Dr. + audiologist say give it a few months and after that hearing aids can definitely help a lot from where I land. I know that just turning up the volume doesn’t help so will be interested in what magic a hearing aid can do.?.?.
I’m a little (OK, maybe more than a little) hopeful that after the physical (hardware) damage is healed as much as will be - which might be now - the brain (software) adjustment will help with comprehension of the data sent.
Anyone experience this?
Thanks again so much to all.