CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – An expert from the West Virginia University School of Medicine is urging hunters to take the extra step in protecting their hearing this hunting season.

“Permanent hearing loss from exposure to loud noises, including gunshots, is preventable and only takes a few additional seconds to ensure that you’re protected,” said Leah Morse, AuD, CCC-A, assistant professor in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “Disposable and custom hearing protection can protect from loud noise and can easily fit in a hunting kit.”

Firearms can measure at 140 dBA, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is comparable to a jet engine.

While continuous use of firearms can lead to hearing loss, it only takes one sufficiently loud noise to cause permanent damage, alongside tinnitus, perceived sounds, increased blood pressure as well as poor digestion and sleep

“Noise exposure is a dosage, in that the louder the sound, the shorter amount of time you can be exposed before potentially damaging your hearing,” Morse said. “Since gun shots are extremely loud, it takes an extremely short period of time for there to be damage to your hearing.”

Reducing exposure is the best guard against hearing loss, but in cases where that’s not possible, earplugs and earmuffs are a must.

“Hearing protection can be as advanced as some electronic versions, which can filter the sound of gunshots while amplifying other sounds so that the experience isn’t altered by the use of hearing protection,” said Morse. “Protection can also be as simple as foam earplugs, which are incredibly effective when worn properly.”

For monitoring hearing loss, Morse recommends regular hearing tests to anyone frequently exposed to loud noise or is experiencing any hearing loss for any reason.

“When you are regularly exposed to dangerous levels of noise you should monitor the progression of your hearing by scheduling annual hearing evaluations,” Morse said.

For more information on the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders, you can visit