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Tinnitus - Ear Protection - Question


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Feb 26, 2005
Yamhill County Oregon
We recently got a new dust collector that is now in the chop room with our double mitre saws. My husband does all the chopping nowadays and he has recently been complaining of ringing in his ears and tension headache.

I think this started about the time we got the dust collector and was wondering if that additional noise along with the saws could be reeking havoc with his hearing?

He doesn't wear ear protection when he cuts molding. What should I get him to wear?

Ear phones (what kind)
Ear plugs (what kind)

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And any stories you have regarding this issue also.

Thanks in advance.
I have 2 kinds of ear protection that I an use. BTW, my audiologist says that the damage can be related to either volume or pitch. I have some of the in-ear foam plugs that are good for long term wear and a pair of headphone style that shooters wear. I use the headphone ones for short term only as they can cause sweating. I got them at a local Sporting Goods store.

The in-ear models are available from businesses that deal in safety equipment. They come in disposable and washable models. Get the highest decibel reduction model you can find. If he's concerned about missing a phone call, he can rig up a light that comes on when there is a call.

I used saws for years without any ear protection. I have about 60% hearing loss in my right ear, and about 40% in my left. This year I get fitted for hearing aids...I just miss too much. Oh, and as far as that ringing in the ears is concerned...after my first appointment with the audiologist I asked him how come going deaf was so noisey.
While he's at it, I hope he's using some kind of eye protection.

I poo-pooed goggles and face shields until I got a few tiny metal shavings embedded in my eye. (I was using a grinder when that happened.)

Why do we always have to learn the hard way?

I've always worn the headphone-type hearing protection when sawing. When I was a kid, I was standing too close to a tree that got struck by lightning and I can't afford any more hearing loss.
Shooter's earplugs work well also. They don't block normal conversations, etc, but DO block sudden loud or high-pitched noises...like a saw.

Click HERE for a link to just one supplier.
I have a Wizard that is about 5 or 6 years old and it is quite noisy. I wear the noise blocking headphones when I cut my mats as well as when I use my thumbnailer.
I have a partial loss from playing the piccolo (high pitch and 3" from my ear!) in high school and college, and from playing and listening to rock-and-roll music at glass-shattering levels. Just got a different compressor for the v-nailer while the other one is in the shop, and it's LOUD. Thanks for the reminder, I will get ear plugs.
Educate your teenagers. They won't listen (HA) to you, but you'll feel better years later when you can say, in sign language, "I told you so!"
And as far as eye protection goes, don't rely on your regular glasses, they can shatter and cause worse damage than a little shard. :cool: Get safety glasses, they're available from your optician, via your opthomologist if you need prescription, and available without a prescription as well.
Because it is noise that is produced by machinery, go to Rockler or similar woodworking sites and get the dense foam plugs, [they come in a 80pr pack]. These will cut the whine of the machines.

Also pickup a headphone set for the mid and low tone. For about $25, these will block 85db.
Combined, these will take care of the ringing in his ears; unless he has TRUE Tinnitus, and that only a doctor can diagnos.

As for the "tension headaches" make sure the air filter is capturing all the way down to 1 micron [HEPA] level. Many of the "dust collectors" are nothing more than "chip collectors" and only filter in the 5-10 micron and larger.

It is the 1-4 micron range that causes lung disfunction and distress and sinus malhydra which if not treated ends in Lung cancer, esophogeial cancer, cronic sinusitas and or sinus impaction and cancer.
Good "Add-on" filter system.

If the whole assembly can be put in a shed outside; do it. If not, 1micron, total ear protection and last but not least: Rockler has a great pair of wrap-around adjustable safty glasses with built-in 150 cheater bifocals. (about $15)

And I already speak Amaslan (American Sign Language).

[ 03-12-2006, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: Baer Charlton ]
My husband recently had to get two hearing aids for himself. He had over 50% loss in both ears and a horrible ringing in both ears. He is only 45... so I assumed it was from listening to The Who at brain-bleeding loud levels... but when he had his hearing checked, the levels were more consistent with a genetic hearing loss than loud music hearing loss. He also works in a kitchen that has really loud fans (85db, I think), and that made the ringing worse, although it is still under the OSHA levels for needing earplugs.
Needless to say, the hearing aids helped a lot... they are cool, actually, small enough that you can't see them (you still need to look hip at 45), and they have 3 level settings for different situations, and are adjustable at the ear place, they get hooked up to a computer, and the ear doctor can adjust the settings. Health insurance (needless to say) didn't cover a dime, but the ringing is mostly gone, and he can hear what I say when I mutter evil things under my breath.... so good for him.

As far as earplugs go, who knows, obviously he didn't wear any... maybe your husband should go to the doctor and get his hearing checked, to see if it is tinnitus or maybe they can recommend a good earplug.
I am a shooter and have a pair of custom molded ear plugs, about $45.00 .The head phones for $25.00 are many times more effective. You don't realize that your hearing is going until it is too late unless you get regular check-ups and once it's gone, it's gone. Larry
Home Depot has a good selection of earplugs, earmuffs and safety glasses. I believe that they also have the ones shown in the link.

Good, most comfortable earplug

These are one of the most comfortable and most effective earplugs that our safety professionals could find.

Trivia note: Did you know that on a 737-200, rows 10 and higher were proven to have noise levels that exceed OSHA requirements for hearing protection. The only reason airlines aren't required to tell you this is because of the time-weighted average for the flight.

Our generator rooms had sound levels high enough to require DOUBLE hearing protection.... plugs and muffs and then could only be exposed at those levels for 10 minutes or less.

Like Ron said, use the glasses too. I kept a pair for years with embedded copper fragments as a reminder of a stupid thing I did and how the safety glasses did their job.
Thanks Rick, great reason to never fly a 737-200 again... good thing they are retiring them.

But also a great reason to fly first.

I got lasik 4 years ago and now have glasses laying all over the place. Safty glasses even for cutting glass or using the Morso.
I wear the foamy earplug thingys as well as cheap headphones. I WOULD NOT use the saw without ear protection.

I have definitely had some hearing loss (I'm 45 as well) but that is certainly due to rock star worshipping from the front row right in front of those amp stacks. Dang, that was fun.

But my birthday is coming up in April and this is my official hint that I would like a pair of noise cancelling headphones. I think they are $125.00. A couple of you can go in on them, if you like!

Thanks much in advance!

edie the huhwhadjasay? goddess
What many people are not aware of are sounds that are loud, but not earsplitting, like prolong listening to music through headphones at elevated volume, chainsaws or motorcycles with loud exhaust. This eats away at their hearing over time.

Cutting through 3/4" hard plywood with a circular saw is earsplitting. How people can do this without hearing protection boggles the mind.
Take out your earplugs... uhm... you read the Grumble, maybe it is you vision. Better have that checked.

Bilsom PerCap pods are my favorite. I started with these 10 years ago, tried many similar looking plugs, but always have come back to these.
Easy to put on and take off.
Although they are "light duty" ear protection thingies, they give enough protection from Hilti TE-6 hammer drill next to your head.

Try to google:

"A cool, inexpensive comfortable alternative to earplugs and earmuffs. Inexpensive, replaceable pods are an economical alternative to disposable plugs

Bilsom PerCap pods do not enter the ear canal, making them ideal for those who find conventional earplugs uncomfortable
Durable folding headband with special hinge for convenient carrying and easy storage
Design exerts less pressure without compromising attenuation
Swivelling pods better accommodate different wearing positions and head shapes
Light weight ensures superior comfort - only 0.4 ounces (10g)!
Three wearing positions: under-the-chin; over and behind-the-head