What Hobbies Need Hearing Protection?

closeup of man inserting earplug into ear

Hazardous noises can come from all kinds of sources such as busy roads, music festivals and even loud restaurants and can cause serious ear damage. Being part of a music band, working on a building site or even in close proximity to a siren such as with police or paramedics puts you at risk of developing serious and irreversible hearing conditions.

If you are to be exposed to loud sounds on either a regular, prolonged or continuous basis then audiologists recommend that you take every precaution necessary to protect your ears from harmful noise. While most people prefer the quiet and are usually only exposed to loud sounds when at work or on an infrequent basis, there are some people who choose to be around loud and potentially harmful sounds as part of a hobby.

Three hobbies that always require hearing protection are:

  • Plane spotting
  • Firearms shooting
  • Music production

Quite the fringe hobby for aerospace enthusiasts, plane spotting is a potentially dangerous hobby for your ears as jet engines can reach extremely high sound levels while firearms shooting is one of the most dangerous situations for your ears and music production can be hazardous as your ears are exposed to loud audio for a prolonged period.

Plane spotting

Plane spotting is a niche hobby but one that millions of people worldwide delight in. The 80s and 90s saw large numbers of plane spotters and interested people alike gather near Liverpool airport to watch Concorde take off each year when the Aintree race was held, all oblivious to the damage they could cause their ears as the supersonic jet flew overhead.

A typical jet engine can reach decibel levels of up to 140dB, more than twice that of a safe sound level. The high-frequency sound of a jet engine means that ear defenders are more suitable than standard insert earplugs which is why airport ground crew and aerospace personnel can often be seen wearing them. 

Firearms shooting

Guns are extremely loud and it goes without saying that firearms shooting is one of the most hazardous situations in which you can place yourself, not only for the obvious risk of injury but the damage that the short, extremely loud bursts of sound can cause to your ears. Even the smallest 22 caliber weapons can produce 140dB while rifles can be as loud as 190dB. 

Over time, hunters can develop shooter’s ear, a condition that damages the ear on the side of the individual’s shooting shoulder. The loud bang of a gunshot causes force and shock to the eardrum, a condition from which it won’t recover. High-quality semi-insert earplugs or ear defenders are recommended for firearms enthusiasts.   

Music production

Perhaps the most obvious yet often most underused ear protection is for musicians. Musicians are exposed to loud sounds continuously and regularly, meaning that they are at a very high risk of developing hearing-related issues such as hearing loss and tinnitus. As such, musicians should always use protection but normal earplugs might not be enough.

Standard earplugs are good at their job of muting sounds which makes them inadequate for music production. Specially designed musicians’ earplugs are a better option as they can block harmful frequencies while also utilizing attenuation to lower volume while retaining music clarity. Electronic, in-ear monitors can also be used to connect to external sources such as production staff, metronomes, and backing tracks.

Contact us today

Are you interested in purchasing hearing protection? Our professionals at Ascent Audiology & Hearing are happy to walk you through the best products available for your needs. Give us a call today at (360) 704-7900.