Patient Ben Deitner says, "There's little things from day to day that I started to notice. I was saying what more often, I couldn't hear the radio, I had to turn the TV up, little things like that."

Being a construction worker for over 20 years and an avid hunter, Ben Deitner is around loud noises more often than not.

Deitner says, "I wouldn't say it was bad but I knew that if I didn't do something about it now I would have just let it go for years and I would've ended up coming back for something more than just hearing protection."

Excessive noise exposure damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear.

Mankato Clinic Audiologist Amanda Bone says, "As that hair in the inner cell is getting damaged over time it usually is a slower progression so you don't notice it right away."

Noise trauma is easily prevented by avoiding loud noises, having little exposure time, or wearing ear protection.

Bone says, "with certain loudness levels there's exposure time that's actually permissible to have say like a vacuum cleaner, just general traffic noise with an 8 hour exposure time within 24 time frame span that won't really cause any damage. But once you get to firecrackers, gun shots even loud concerts where it can get pretty significantly loud, that's where you can start to see immediate damage to the hair cells because of the intensity and it can start causing damage even after a few seconds."

Deitner says, "Currently I use a product called a hunter plug. It is a custom formed plug to my ear that is battery powered so when its turned on I can hear everything. I could hear a cat walk across the floor from 20 feet away. The sound is actually amplified. I could turn that down so it's not as loud and it acts just like a normal plug. So what happens when say a gun shot goes off it closes the sound off and acts as a normal hearing protection device. As soon as that gunshot is gone it switches over to an amplified sound."

And while many people may not notice it now, as they get older the more trouble you will have hearing if you don't take steps to protect it now.

Deitner says, "Nobody likes to say I wear hearing plugs or hearing protecting while they're out hunting. But in the long run I would rather have come into the clinic to purchase a set of hearing plugs hearing devices as that rather than 10 years down the road for massive hearing loss and having to come in for hearing aids."

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