Recreational firearm use and hearing loss

Arch Fam Med. 2000 Apr;9(4):352-7. doi: 10.1001/archfami.9.4.352.


Objective: To assess the relation between recreational firearm use and high-frequency hearing loss in a population of older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional, population-based cohort study.

Setting: The midwestern community of Beaver Dam, Wis.

Participants: A population-based sample of 3753 participants (83% of those eligible), aged 48 to 92 years, participated in the baseline phase of the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study.

Intervention: None.

Main outcome measures: Lifetime and past year self-reported firearm use during target shooting and hunting were assessed by interview. Hearing thresholds were measured by pure-tone audiometry.

Results: After age and other factors were adjusted for, men (n = 1538) who had ever regularly engaged in target shooting (odds ratio, 1.57; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-2.19) or who had done so in the past year (odds ratio, 2.00; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-3.46) were more likely to have a marked high-frequency hearing loss than those who had not. Risk of having a marked high-frequency hearing loss increased 7% for every 5 years the men had hunted (odds ratio, 1.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.12). Thirty-eight percent of the target shooters and 95% of the hunters reported never wearing hearing protection while shooting in the past year.

Conclusions: These results indicate that use of recreational firearms is associated with marked high-frequency hearing loss in men. There is a need for further education of users of recreational firearms regarding the risk of hearing impairment associated with firearm use and the availability and importance of appropriate hearing protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Firearms*
  • Hearing Loss, High-Frequency / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss, High-Frequency / etiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recreation
  • Wisconsin