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Toastie

Hearing loss and Skydiving

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Hello all,

I am an AFF student and I was just wondering how many of you have heard of someone damaging their ear drums from skydiving, or if anyone knows how common it is? I suffered from permanent hearing loss a few years ago (non-skydiving related), just in one of my ears, and am slightly concerned about losing my hearing in my other ear. I was wondering if change in pressure could rupture the eardrum if you have some sort of sinus problem or allergies. I want to save my last ear as much as possible from hearing damage so that I won’t go completely deaf, but don’t want to stop doing things I like to do just because I have this problem. Please let me know what you think. I would also like to know if there is any advice for a newbie skydiver from those who are deaf and/or hard of hearing, it is nice to know that there are others out there like me. Thanks!
:)

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Whether or not you have loss now, wear hearing protection. I have damage to my hearing, and I think much of it is from skydiving. I'm over 50 and also was exposed to a lot of noise in the military--I was an artillery officer and also shot competitive skeet. But I also used hearing protection for all those activities, and only tended to be inconsisitent with hearing protection when jumping. My loss is high frequency, to the extent that I wear hearing aids much of the time. I have a couple hundred jumps from UH-1H Huey helicopters with the doors off, and the turbine is right above your head. Turbine engines generate very high noise levels that can damage hearing, and some of the engine noise is too high pitched for us to hear. I do some camera work, and when you climb out of an Otter right behind the engine, if you don't wear ear plugs you will definitely damage your hearing over time. Same goes for audible altimeters, they can be very loud in an otherwise unprotected ear. I now wear ear plugs religiously, from the time I approach the aircraft until I take my helmet off. I also got some custom injection molded ear plugs, and they are easier to insert, but no better protection than the less expensive varieties. If you're just going to make a couple hundred jumps no worries, but if you're a serious, long term skydiver, you need to wear ear plugs if you don't want high frequency hearing loss. And the FAA flight physical for tandem has a hearing standard!

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And the FAA flight physical for tandem has a hearing standard!



I did not know this part. I have a couple of experienced deaf skydiver friends who have stated that they would like to become tandem masters. Is the fact they're deaf going to disqualify them? Even if there are deaf tandem customers?

[:/]
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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And the FAA flight physical for tandem has a hearing standard!



I did not know this part. I have a couple of experienced deaf skydiver friends who have stated that they would like to become tandem masters. Is the fact they're deaf going to disqualify them? Even if there are deaf tandem customers?

[:/]



I don't think that's true. I just got my medical renewed and I wear hearing aids. Not a single question about hearing was asked. It was also NOT noted on my card. If there was a hearing requirement I'm sure they would have put on my card that I must wear hearing aids like they do with glasses.

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According to the FAA, the hearing standards for the Class 3 physical can be measured a number of different ways, to include simple tests like the physician turning away and speaking in a normal voice, etc. In terms of decibels of loss, the flight duty medical exam checklist (military) lists different standards for different frequencies, e.g. at 4000hz, less than or equal to 55 dB loss for Class 2/3/4 and less than or equal to 45 dB loss for Class 1/1a. I am over that at 4000hz and 6000hz (like 70 dB), but my flight surgeon cleared me, with no requirement to wear my aids (in fact, my audiologist told me not to wear them jumping). Hearing standards for these physicals can also be waived--and I would have applied for a waiver if he had been hesitant to clear me for flight status. I suspect that most physicians would have no trouble passing someone with reasonably functional hearing, aided or unaided, especially when the physical is for tandem jumping. Not sure about those who are completely deaf.
Here is the link to the FAA standards:
http://flightphysical.com/Exam-Guide/HEENT/Hearing-49.htm

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I'm curious to know why your audiologist told you not to wear them. I always wear mine. In fact since they are digital they suppress amplification above a certain noise threshold so I don't need to worry about the noise level. They act as an earplug in effect.

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Mine are the Micro Saviks and don't completely block the ear canal, so I could get more damage. They let all the sound in, and amplify only the higher frequencies where I have my loss, and only enough to compensate for the exact amount of loss. I'm fortunate to have normal hearing at lowerr frequencies, 4000hz and below. She suggested that I take them out and use hearing protection in and around the aircraft--I don't even take them to the DZ. Same when shooting weapons. If yours block your whole ear canal, I'm sure it works great to leave them in.
Break Break--none of us managed to completely respond to Toastie's first post, YES you can also damage your ears if nasal congestion or other problems prevent the equalization of pressure across your eardrum, either on the way up or the way down. I have seen skydivers with stuffy heads in a lot of pain from that. I have personally never seen anyone have ear problems due to pressure if they were not nursing a cold or otherwise stopped up.

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Thank you all for your helpfulness. I listened to the link that was posted and it was very helpful having an opinion of an ENT specialist who used to skydive. I also had talked with my doctor about it. Although, I was just curious to know if you can lose your hearing/damage your eardrum without having any pain/discomfort/warning signs. The ENT on the link said you would know when it is not a safe time to jump because you will feel discomfort/pain after jumping, but what if you dont feel any pain, I wonder if you could still do some damage without knowing it. hrmm.. maybe its a stupid question, I guess it all just boils down to boyle's law.:)

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I wear ear-protection, even in my Z1 full face helmet. The local drug store has a pretty good selection of ear plugs. They work great in all types of situations - aircraft noise, freefall noise, loud booms. They also help with equalization pressures too.
So I try and I scream and I beg and I sigh
Just to prove I'm alive, and it's alright
'Cause tonight there's a way I'll make light of my treacherous life
Make light!

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The hearing test for my class 3 FAA medical was the doc covering up her mouth with a piece of paper and having me repeat a sentence that she said. If your deaf friend wants to become a TI, have them check with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) doctor before they fill out the FAA paperwork. I'm sure AOPA, USPA, and the FAA could also answer your questions about whether they will be able to get the class 3 medical and any limitations it may have on it. Or you could post or do a search here to see if there are any deaf TI's out there.
BASE 1224, Senior Parachute Rigger, CPL ASEL IA, AGI, IGI
USPA Coach & UPT Tandem Instructor, PRO, Altimaster Field Support Representative

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Hmmm.... the last time somebody tried to talk to me with a hand covering his mouth, was in high school. I ended up punching him in the mouth, right through his hand. So he got all the cuts on his fingers from his teeth instead of me. :D

Oh yeah, it was worth the suspension. :P

Just a story I had to share.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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Hmmm.... the last time somebody tried to talk to me with a hand covering his mouth, was in high school. I ended up punching him in the mouth, right through his hand. So he got all the cuts on his fingers from his teeth instead of me. :D

Oh yeah, it was worth the suspension. :P

Just a story I had to share.



hahaha nice. :D

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Hey ! I'm starting my AFF this sunday and I have to wear hearing aids. So can I wear them while skydiving? The wind won't blow them out will it? Last couple time i went I took them out. And they are digital, in the ear ( half shell ).



In-the-ear aids shouldn't be a problem, though I'd rather have a helmet that covers the ears to make sure they stay put.

That said, I agree with the other poster, you're better off using plugs or leaving the aids on the ground.

The one time I wore my aid (an over-the-ear kind) on a fun jump, I didn't have a helmet on, and the riser almost knocked it right off on deployment. The helmets I have don't allow room for the aid on, so I never wore the aid on a jump again.

How bad is your hearing? There are ways to get around having to use the student radios for your canopy descents.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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Has anyone ever used a headset with the student radios?

I have a mild level of hearing loss (I don't wear aids - yet) and have a terrible time hearing the radio clearly. My first S/L jump had me piloting the canopy with my head bent down sideways so I could try to get my 'good' ear closer to the radio. I still had a hard time hearing clearly what all I was being told to do. And, yeah, yeah, I know that I'm not supposed to rely on the radio and all of that. I get that.

My Oto told me I could wear ear plugs if I wanted to protect me from the noise but "you're going to completely lose your hearing at some point anyway..." I love that man's optimism.

The other issue with the ear plugs is that, yet another symptom of my myriad ear problems, is that the pressure in my ears doesn't self regulate, I have to clear them constantly - even while sitting at sea level - so ear plugs could possibly interfere or compete with the goofy things my ears are doing on their own and cause an eardrum to perforate. That's not fun or comfy and I don't ever want to experience that again.

So - check with your Oto and make sure that wearing ear plugs will be beneficial for you and not make your head explode.

:D
If you can't laugh at yourself, I'll be happy to do it for you.
****************************
Be like the cupcake and suck it up.

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I've never heard of a headset used in skydiving. The ones I know of are bulky, like the airport workers use outside on the tarmac. I would think it would not be compatible with the required helmet for students... Good point about the plugs. My hearing is so far gone they serve no benefit to me anyway, but maybe it depends on the kind of plugs? Are there foam ones that allow air through but help mute the noise somewhat?

As for student radios, like I said, there are ways to be trained without them.

Some DZs use brightly painted hand-held paddles to indicate toggle input so once you get open, you look for the DZ and look in the area where the ground instructor tells you to look for him in, and follow his hand movements. Another way is to use a large arrow made from cardboard or paperboard or hell, even 1/4" plywood and brightly painted. Whatever direction the ground crew points the arrow in, is the direction they want you flying in. When they turn the arrow, turn to the direction the arrow is turned to.

When my instructor geared me up for my first jump, and he started to install the radio on my chest, I just looked at him with a deadpan face, and he just went "whoops, you don't need that". :D
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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I have moderate to severe hearing loss...been wearing them since I was 4 yrs old. I'm 36 now. I remember the first time I done a tandem, after the chute deployed, I thought i went completely deaf. The jumpmaster was trying to talk to me,had to tell him I couldn't understand a word he was saying.That was back when Gold Coast was at Moss Point,Miss. I'll be going to Emerald Coast sunday.And BTW, its good to meet people who have same problem as me. Nice to meet you ! Any tips would be appreciated, Thanks!

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I'm only a few hours north of you. :)
Moderate to severe hearing loss? Can you explain how that happened?

I'm fucking deaf, is the simplest way to explain my disability. :D But I do have perfect speech, as only years of speech therapy can produce.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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I've always worn mine skydiving but only if I wear a helmet. I don't trust that they will stay in without one. They are too expensive to play that game.:P

I've never had any issues with them in. Sometimes my ears don't quite clear under canopy if my helmet is too tight pressing against the earmolds but unless I've also got a cold it's not a problem.

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when I was a baby I got spinalmentigaties...doctors belive thats what caused it. I have close to 70 % hearing loss. and yeah I went through 6 yrs speech therapy. all the way to 6th grade in school. you live around birmingham area?



Yeah, Spinal Meningitis... potentially fatal disease, if it don't kill you, it makes you deaf.

I lived in Birmingham for a number of years, now live 35 minutes east in a small quiet town.

I've jumped at Gold Coast and Emerald Coast DZs in the past. Been a while though.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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