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Sample Research Paper on How Police officers are Affected by Loud Impulsive Noise from the Gun

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Sample Research Paper on How Police officers are Affected by Loud Impulsive Noise from the Gun


Noise is one of the most widespread causes of hearing loss, and the most likely causes of occupational illnesses in the United States (Leigh 728). Acute or prolonged exposure to high-level, impulsive noise is an ongoing problem for the military and defense forces all over the world (Sliwinska-Kowalska and Adrian Davis 274). One shot from a big caliber firearm, perceived at a close range, may permanently or temporarily damage an individual hearing in an instant. Additionally, repeated exposures to noisy machinery may, over an extensive period of time, impose serious risks to human hearing. According to the report released by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD); ten million Americans have already suffered permanent hearing damage from noise and thirty to fifty million individuals are exposed to hazardous noise levels every day (Leigh 728). Many hearing illnesses in the police service originate from the noise caused by gunshots. As a result of increased cased of hearing problem, mainly in the police service, many scholars have engaged in research in order to get appropriate mean to control these problem. Considering the increasing investigation from military groups for vital information on how to protect from impulse noise, it is vital to explore health effects associated with impulse noise from gunshots. This study explores the effects on hearing caused by occupational exposure to gunshot noise.

Problem Statement

In order to be able to come up with appropriate means to tackle noise problems related to gunshot, it is vital to ask, why has this problem become so widespread? Regrettably, the effects of noise are often overlooked and underestimated mainly because the damage takes place in a gradual manner.  Noisy sounds have become quite common in our culture that people do not consider health impact related to such sounds.  Consequently, people have usually not appreciated the grave impact of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) on their normal lifestyles until they’re frustrated by a serious communication problem or continuous ringing in their ears. This document will explore, using peer reviewed articles, effects of gun noise, how impulsive noise can damage the hearing system, factors that influence this damage, and actions that you can take to curb this problem.

 Consequences of impulsive Noise

Our hearing system is fashioned to sense and process sounds over a remarkably wide range of levels. However, exposure to sound beyond certain frequencies can lead to hearing problems. When the human ear is exposed to extreme noise, mechanical and metabolic changes can take place as a result of this stress. Scientific research, based on studies of industrial workers has investigated the damaging effects of noise on hearing. Several studies have established that, after extreme noise has stimulated cells in the inner ear, certain chemical reactions occur that can surpass the cells’ tolerance level, hence damaging their physical structure and function.

Noise-induced hearing loss: When a person is exposed, either at workplace or at home environ, to damaging sounds that are too loud for an extensive period of time, sensitive parts of the inner ear can be severely damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is a hearing disorder characterized by a steady, progressive loss of high frequency hearing sensitivity over time, as a result of exposure to extreme noise sound levels (Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska et al 294). With as many as 30 million Americans having different types of hearing problems, as many as 10 million have significant hearing problems caused by extreme loud noise experience in the workplace or during leisure activities (Leigh 728). 

Tinnitus: Another condition that is often part of noise-induced hearing loss is tinnitus. This is a condition characterized by perception of sound (mostly hissing, buzzing, or humming) when there is no external stimulus. This basically deprives a person the opportunity to experience quietness, and can be very distressing.

Literature Review

Impulsive noises from guns in military combat environments pose a major health hazard to police or military personnel’s. Several studies have indicated that impulse noise may be more damaging to hearing than continuous noise (Starck, Esko and Pyykko 63). Impulse noise causes certainly more severe hearing loss compared to steady state noise. Reported cases for hearing loss are common in occupations where noise is impulsive such as military and law enforcement sector. These impulsive noises can damage the inner part of the ear even though they lead to reduced alertness of the noise hazard.  According to several new studies, gunshot impulses are main cause of noise induced hearing loss (Olszewski et al 79). The prevalence of hearing impairment is as high as 40-60 % among persons who have exposed to gunfire noise (Olszewski et all 377).

Noise-induced hearing loss is a sensor neural hearing illness that begins at higher frequencies (3,000 to 6,000 Hz) and develops slowly as a result of constant exposure to excessive sound levels (Konopka 243). Although the loss is characteristically symmetric, noise that originates from firearms or sirens may generate an asymmetric loss. Shearing forces that result from different sounds have a major effect on the stereocilia of the hair cells found in the basilar layer of the cochlea; when extreme, these forces can result to death of vital cell (Wu and Yi-Ho Young 657). Acoustic trauma, a related condition of hearing loss, results from a prolonged experience with short-term impulsive noise.  A cording to current studies, NIHL occurs at a younger age in the military compared to other groups of workers exposed to excessive noise (Talcott et al 23). Hearing problem caused by exposure to occupational and recreational noise results in distressing disability that is virtually 100% preventable (Flamme et al 231).

A comparison of noise produced by gun short to other sources of noise

Gunshot impulsive sound (peak level)

140 – 170dB

Jet takeoff sound 


Rock and chain saw

110 – 120dB

Diesel Locomotive


Motorcycle, lawnmower


OSHA level hearing




Quite room



30 – 40dB


The economic expenditure on work-related hearing loss has been thought to be several billions (Leigh 728). NIHL became rampant in the industrial revolution era. An early term that was used to refer to NIHL was “boilermakers’ disease,” because majority of the workers who worked on steam boilers complained of hearing problems (Sliwinska-Kowalska and Adrian Davis 274). In today’s increased noisy culture, it is more likely for anyone to develop hearing problems. However, people exposed to noisy sounds in their work place are more likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. A recent study found evidence of increased noise-induced hearing loss in the police and military personnel (Starck, Esko and Pyykko 63). The main cause of excessive loud and impulsive is the firearms that are used by these security and law enforcement personnel’s. Avoiding exposure to noisy sounds stops further development of the ear damage.

Industrial impulse noise causes about 5-12 dB more severe hearing impairment than steady state noise. The exposure to impulsive noise is normally composed of very quick sound bursts that have short lifespan and low energy content (Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska 294). Hearing protection mechanism has proved to be less effective against impulsive sound from large calibre fire-arms due to the non-linearity of the attenuation and the low frequency components (Murphy and Randy 688). Shooting with large calibre weaponries gives loud sounds greater than 140 dB. When working in an environment with loud impulses, a combination of earplugs and earmuffs are recommended.

The OSHA maintains that the employers should provide occupational hearing conservation programs for their workers in workplaces with excessive noise level (Wu and Yi-Ho 657). Hearing conservation program in an organizational set up should make use of engineering and managerial controls to reduce noise exposures, workers training in the use of hearing protection devices and annual audiometry test for all workers who are exposed to excessive noise.

How to address the problem

Workers who have been vulnerable to excessive noise should be screened (Lynch and Jonathan 1295). It is advisable to conduct screening on police officer after certain duration in order to ascertain their hearing condition. It is possible to know if a person has hearing problem through simple examinational questions. The physician can ask patients if they have difficulty perceiving speech in noisy environments, if they always need to increase the television volume or if they regularly have to ask people talking to them to repeat sentences.

Physicians providing work-related health services to the police service may supervise the hearing conservation program, make reviews on audiograms that appear abnormal and provide vital advice to the program administrators. A person whose audiogram shows a normal threshold shift deterioration of 10 dB on average at 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 Hz when compared with the worker’s baseline test) should be notified and be given extra training and evaluation (Konopka 243). When hearing problem is suspected, a thorough history, audiometry test, and hearing assessment should be performed (Lynch and Jonathan 1292). If these examinations reveal evidence of hearing loss, recommendation for full audiologic evaluation is necessary (Lynch and Jonathan 1292).

Based on the current knowledge, it is evident that there is the insufficiency of the equal energy principle in modeling the risk for hearing loss. Although there are no studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of educating patients about NIHL, family physicians can easily screen for extreme noise experience during health check-up visits. Employers (police service administration) should have an efficient system for responding and managing identified hazards. Although NIHL is not fully treatable, it is almost 100% preventable (Lynch and Jonathan 1292). Clinician should motivate patients to uphold their hearing health and thereby lessen the chance of hearing disability in the workplace.

It is important to avoid extreme noise whenever possible and make use of hearing protection devices when necessary. Hearing protection devices such as; earmuffs and custom-fitted earplugs can attenuate from 20 to 40 dB of unnecessary sound when utilized appropriately (Flamme 231). Also, counseling about hearing protection is effectual, although there is no sufficient evidence in favor of physician counseling.

A person whose screening reveals indications of hearing problem should be referred for an entire audiologic evaluation. Audiologists can examine a several frequencies and can help in determination of air or bone conduction in order to verify whether the problem is sensor neural, conductive or mixed (McBride and Williams 47). They are also able to perform tests for speech discrimination and reception threshold. If a unilateral or asymmetric sensor neural loss is confirmed, either tinnitus or other considerable ear pathology is found; recommendation to a specialist such as otolaryngologist is warranted. Patients diagnosed with sudden sensor neural hearing loss should receive immediate referral, because treatment done within the first 24 hours can significantly improve outcomes (McBride and Williams 48).

Currently, the treatment of NIHL is limited to hearing amplification and physician counseling (Tak et al 371). Initially, most patients may be unwilling to consider using hearing aids, as a result of stigma associated with hearing problems a young stage. However, the family physician or clinician can persuade a patient with considerable hearing loss to get treatment and can work with the sick person and his/her families to enable them cope with a hearing Impairment. Special hearing aids can enlarge the sounds but, despite major technologic advances, often cannot entirely correct problems of speech discrimination (Tak et al 359). Normally, hearing aids should be cautiously matched to the person’s hearing problem and lifestyle by a trained audiologist. Vocational rehabilitation programs may be essential to ensure that patients can work safely and effectively even with their hearing impairment.


Noise exposure, whether occupational or recreational, is the main cause of hearing loss. Though it is a challenge to reduce impulsive noise from big firearms, there is need for technological advancement to produce improved machine with less impulsive sound. However, preventive measures such as using hearing protection aids should be employed whenever using firearms. Regular screening is necessary in order to prevent permanent ear damages. By preventing NIHL, patients can effectively reduce the effect of age-related changes on their hearing. Family physicians and clinicians should educate and motivate people of all ages to keep away from potentially harmful noise, use hearing protection devices when necessary and seek proper treatment for a prevailing hearing deficit.



Work Cited

Flamme, Gregory A., et al. “Estimates of auditory risk from outdoor impulse noise II: Civilian firearms.” Noise and health 11.45 (2009): 231.

Konopka, W., et al. “Distortion product otoacoustic emissions before and after one-year exposure to impulse noise.” Otolaryngologia polska. The Polish otolaryngology 60.2 (2005): 243-247.

Leigh, Paul. “Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States.” Milbank Quarterly 89.4 (2011): 728-772.

McBride, D. I., and S. Williams. “Audiometric notch as a sign of noise induced hearing loss.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 58.1 (2001): 46-51.

Olszewski, J. U. R. E. K., et al. “Temporary hearing threshold shift measured by otoacoustic emissions in subjects exposed to short-term impulse noise.”International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health 18.4 (2005): 375-379.

Olszewski, Jurek, et al. “Hearing threshold shift measured by otoacoustic emissions after shooting noise exposure in soldiers using hearing protectors.”Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery 136.1 (2007): 78-81.

Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska, M. A. Ł. G. O. R. Z. A. T. A., et al. “Temporary changes in hearing after exposure to shooting noise.” Int J Occup Med Environ Health 17.2 (2004): 294.

Sliwinska-Kowalska, Mariola, and Adrian Davis. “Noise-induced hearing loss.”Noise and Health 14.61 (2012): 274.

Starck, J., Esko Toppila, and I. Pyykko. “Impulse noise and risk criteria.”Noise and Health 5.20 (2003): 63.

Talcott, Kristen A., et al. “Azimuthal auditory localization of gunshots in a realistic field environment: Effects of open-ear versus hearing protection-enhancement devices (HPEDs), military vehicle noise, and hearing impairment.” International journal of audiology 51.sup1 (2012): S20-S30.

Wu, Chun-Ching, and Yi-Ho Young. “Ten-year longitudinal study of the effect of impulse noise exposure from gunshot on inner ear function.” International journal of audiology 48.9 (2009): 655-660.

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