Could Chainsaw Outside Worsen Tinnitus or Cause Hearing Damage?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Gabriel5050, Aug 15, 2022.

    1. Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      Yesterday I was exposed to about 3 - 4 minutes of on and off chainsaw noise. It came from one of my neighbors. The source was placed "behind me" so to say. My house has no windows facing that direction.

      I was sitting in my bed with my Peltor X5A earmuffs on, because you never know what happens. Like yesterday.

      During the noise I was sitting on my bed, hoping to God it will stop already. Even with the protection, the sound was pretty loud! At one point, stupid me slightly lifted one earmuff for some reason. Thankfully, what I heard was only the idle Chainsaw noise.

      Afterwards I took some Prednisone (70 mg), that I keep for noise traumas. Also 1200 mg NAC and vitamin C. I will take Prednisone for a few more days. Today when I woke up I only felt a slight spike in my ears... but I am still scared. It seems that I took every single precaution I could and yet I can't avoid noise traumas. Even if the damage doesn't seem obvious now, my tinnitus keeps getting louder with time. It's something I can't seem to avoid.

      I've had other loud incidents while going outside but this one scared me because apparently there is nowhere I can hide, no escape. I feel defeated and doomed to worsening after worsening. Could this event have worsened my tinnitus? Am I over reacting?
       
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    2. SmallRonnie
      Ape-like

      SmallRonnie Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Location:
      Ireland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Factory noise + Headphones + Clubbing + Vaccine? + Stress
      You are obviously very worried about this which is most likely making your tinnitus much louder. Maybe the noise did spike your tinnitus but it seems unlikely that it would have permanently made your tinnitus louder.

      If you manage to calm down you will probably see a reduction in your tinnitus volume.
       
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    3. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      I believe your nervous system is overreacting @Gabriel5050 due to your extreme fear of permanent worsening. I know all about the feeling, but normally it's not rationale thinking.

      You were inside while the work at your neighbours was going on? With earmuffs on? I think this won't set you back permanently, no. Your baseline tinnitus will not peak permanently due to this. This will calm down.
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      Thanks for the answers. Yeah. When you add up the facts, this seems like the logical conclusion. Thank you for the kind words, as it's harder to find empathy from people who don't have tinnitus. I will continue being careful and post an update in the future.
       
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    5. GeorgeLG
      Wishful

      GeorgeLG Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      We are all different so YMMV. That said, I get spikes every day that go back down to baseline, for many of us it's part of the process. I dropped a heavy knife on a tile floor last week that hit just the wrong way, that was a three dayer. I have had a few more significant accidental exposures with spikes that lasted longer but the same result. You sound like you were pretty well protected. As mentioned, fear and worry can make all of this way worse. Imagine instead that it will resolve, that this will not hurt you. That chemistry running around in your body is more helpful. When I get an exposure that causes a spike I protect up and go do something constructive like a fun project so now every exposure results in something positive. I just say to myself that the universe wants me to get something fun accomplished and this will not hurt me or make me worse.

      Be careful with Prednisone, it has its place but it's a powerful drug not intended as a single dose therapy and can cause problems. As suggested, try to relax, this will probably help you more than drugs and supplements.

      George
       
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    6. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      Get yourself a decibel meter. You'll probably find that outside noises you thought were loud are pretty deceptive. I always thought mowers, gas leaf blowers, garbage trucks etc were loud but found they are all under 60db when inside with windows closed. Even my neighbor's motorcycle right beside my office window is under 70 dB.

      That combined with 33 dB NRR Peltors most likely gave you more than adequate protection.

      The spike is probably from the Prednisone. I find that anything above 40 mg spikes my tinnitus while 20-40 mg minimizes it a bit.
       
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    7. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      Sorry to hear that, @Gabriel5050, but I can't figure this out; You're inside, the chainsaw is outside - idling, you say there are no windows facing it, and despite all that, you heard it "pretty loud" even with protection.

      I mean when I ride on my bike in the city, with foam earplugs and Peltor X5A's, I can barely hear cars driving right past me due to the attenuation. When I sit in my own home, facing the windows, in just my Peltor X5A's, I can barely hear what's going on outside.

      Are you having severe loudness hyperacusis?
       
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    8. InNeedOfHelp

      InNeedOfHelp Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      MRI Scan
      I have a professional decibel meter. A neighbor drilling in concrete next door is 85-88 dB. Due to the sound pressure it sounds much louder.

      A chainsaw outside will not reach over 85 dB in your house. You will not get a worsening with a Peltor X5A. You have more chance of worsening from Prednisone then that sound. You are maybe exploded to 60-65 dB with the Peltors on. Taking prednisone for this incidents, even before a 'potential' spike started is dangerous territory.

      Source: there are three big apartment buildings being built right next to me. Drills, chainsaws and electric grinding tools sound terribly scary for someone with tinnitus/hyperacusis, but this is mainly misophonia (when you're inside and have decent isolation - outside is loud of course). I noticed this myself. I hate the sounds outside here, but measuring inside it rarely goes over 50 dB. Even though I hear it clearly. It is the anxiety of the squeeling and pitching which causes (mental) problems.
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      My bad. Should have worded it more clearly. At certain intervals they were cutting wood with the chainsaw. During one of the breaks I lifted one of the cups of the earmuffs and recognised it was still idling.

      I certainly have phonophobia, especially towards any sort of construction tools or machinery like bulldozers. I think I also developed hyperacusis to a certain degree, but that might be caused by overprotection to keep the tinnitus at bay.

      I can also drive my car with double protection, though I am still wary of roadworks.
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      @GeorgeLG, I agree with the Prednisone. I got much better at not taking it like it's candy. Last time I took some was over 3 months ago, which is progress for me. I like your idea of using spikes as a pretext to do something fun. I picked up again "Discourses and Selected Writings" by the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. I recommend it.

      I actually had a streak of a few good weeks before yesterday! But this incident sent me running back here on Tinnitus Talk lol. Wouldn't leave this place until we found a cure anyway.
       
    11. ZFire
      Movie buff

      ZFire Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      I still don’t understand why Prednisone gets championed here as some sort of miracle cure for tinnitus. All the anecdotes I’ve seen from steroid usage here is that it’ll:

      - In the best case scenario, you’ll get temporary tinnitus relief.
      - In the worse case scenario, your tinnitus will worsen.
      - OR nothing happens to your tinnitus at all.

      Seems like a big waste of time if anything. I haven’t seen any good evidence on Prednisone being used as a preventive measure for tinnitus worsening. I would only be taking steroids if you were noticing any sudden hearing loss as there’s some evidence there that steroids might help in that area.

      I think you’ll be alright though. I mean, you were wearing hearing protection (X5A) in your own home after all (added layer of protection assuming windows were closed). That’s more than enough IMO.
       
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    12. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      Yea I think oral Prednisone is bad news for tinnitus.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      Update: I think my tinnitus went 90% back to the previous baseline. Maybe even completely in my right ear. I don't think my hearing was affected, since I can still listen to audio on the same low volume.

      I can't draw any conclusions about the Prednisone, but I will continue abstaining from taking it unless there's an extreme event (hopefully never). Taking it too often and in too high quantities can mess with your adrenal glands and your immune system.

      If anyone else wants to complain about chainsaws and power tools, they're welcome to do so, lol.
       
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    14. Juan

      Juan Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      That sort of sound level can spike tinnitus and hyperacusis. My hyperacusis would spike and I would get setbacks after incidents exactly like the one you are describing.

      But my hyperacusis was severe, really really bad hyperacusis.
       
    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      I hoped I wouldn't have to use this thread again... but I do. Because I have been through another incident. :(

      Yesterday, September 12, I guess my neighbor finished the job of cutting the tree. So this time it was even louder. At first I heard some kind of cutting noise so I put on 27 dB silicon 3M plugs and my Peltor X5A earmuffs. Unlike last time, I checked the noise by using a sound meter app on my Samsung android phone. When quiet, the room was ~18 dB and when they were cutting it was 30-40 dB. This went on for 25-30 minutes. And it would've been fine if this were the end of it.

      But suddenly it got much louder! So I also put a blanket over my head and hid below my computer desk. I believe they must have been cutting branches of the tree on the other side of my room (house has ground floor + 1st floor, where I was). This noisy part lasted about 4 minutes when the app was showing 78 dB at the peaks! My tinnitus is spiking now and I am worried. Today I left home and might leave tomorrow too for a few hours to be safer.

      Side note #1: people say double protection is somewhat redundant because there is gonna be bone conduction from your skull anyway. To that I say, why not protect the entire skull from the noise? That is my reasoning for the blanket. And in my experience, it works. It's not the holy grail of protection, but it works even better when you use 2 blankets.

      Side note #2: the accuracy of the app is probably not that great. I can make it hit 75-80 dB blowing on the microphone from 30 centimeters away or from hitting the opposite end of the table the phone is on. So let's be pessimistic and say it hit 85 dB at the peaks for 4-5 minutes. Applying the formula for double protection I've seen here and on other sites (+5 is from the double protection): (NRR - 7 + 5)/2 gives (31 - 7 + 5)/2 = 14.5 and even without the +5 it's 12 dB reduction so 70.5 or 73 dB exposure.

      I'm only 22 and I don't think I've gone through as much stuff as some other people here, but I don't want to give up and I'm trying to tell myself it wasn't that bad. Any kind words appreciated.
       
    16. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      If you were wearing the hearing protection properly you can probably disregard that "(NRR - 7) / 2" equation. This is more for users who don't insert their earplugs all the way or have exposure before inserting hearing protection.

      From the 3M website:
      The NRR rating is already downrated from the manufacturer's laboratory tests. If you look at Earasers standard earplug, for example, they have tested and rate the plugs at 13 dB (tested at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University), yet the EPA rates them at -5 NRR. I've tried them and they certainly provide protection, so take it all with a grain of salt.

      You can do a little test for yourself, albeit not entirely accurate (but decent enough).
      • Play some white noise through a speaker and volume that is comfortable to you.
      • Measure the decibel level on your meter or phone (iPhones are much more accurate than others since they all have standard microphones that can be calibrated by the app creator).
      • Put on your hearing protection and turn the volume up until it sounds around the same loudness it was without the protection.
      • Measure again with your meter or phone.
      • Now you can get a rough understanding of the attenuation you are getting.
       
    17. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      @Gabriel5050, keep telling yourself that; it wasn't too loud. Because really, with your level of protection, it wasn't.

      I'm pretty sure that this is more fear driven and you worrying to get worse/spike permanently than anything else.

      This will pass, and you will be fine. Stay strong, and try to keep calm.
       
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    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      Would you believe it. I sure am a lucky individual. This time there was another neighbor, 2 houses away cutting a tree with a chainsaw in his garden. This time the noise inside my house peaked at a little over 60 dB on a few occasions.

      Then I made a decision that I now regret in hindsight. I left my home with my car to chill in another area on a small side street in the neighborhood. All went well, until on the trip back I encountered on a intersection someone using what looked like a angle grinder on a concrete wall (for some reason?). So I was in my car with Peltor X5A earmuffs and 3M 1100 earplugs, exposed for about 10 seconds because I had to yield right of way there. He was about 10 meters from me at the closest.

      The internet says these tools are anywhere between 90-110 dB (maybe even 120 dB, but I kinda doubt that). But oddly enough I could barely hear that tool being used. I would have expected it to be louder. So I pray that this will not affect me with a spike.

      Also, at this point there are only 2-3 trees left anywhere near me. So it's becoming increasingly unlikely to encounter chainsaws again.

      After thought:
      I also educated myself a bit how attenuation over distance works and I used this site to set a scenario that I think might be accurate:

      https://noisetools.net/barriercalcu...rier=[0]&temperature=18&humidity=40&display=2

      Considering this and my ear protection I would assume the sound experienced was 70 dB or a little over 70 dB.
       
    19. ajc

      ajc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2002; spike 2009; worse 2017-18
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music - noise damage
      To me it sounds you have developed phonophobia if you seriously prayed or were at all distraught after this "incident."

      Will you now be monitoring your tinnitus more than normal? "Is it now louder?"... "How about now?" Sure as hell it will feel louder if you put your brain to it! Don't monitor it!

      In a car, with earmuffs AND earplugs... there could be literal war zone with bombs exploding outside of your car and your hearing and tinnitus would be fine. I wouldn't even bat an eye being exposed in these conditions to extremely loud noises.
       
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    20. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      100% agree. @Gabriel5050 - To break this phonophobic pattern of yours, you should seek out professional help. You are monitoring too much, and your fear of worsening is worse than the actual level of sound.

      I'm not saying it's uncommon for someone with hyperacusis and the likes to act like you do, but without help there is a great risk it will only get worse. With professional help, this can get a lot better in 6+ months' time.
       
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    21. GeorgeLG
      Wishful

      GeorgeLG Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      @Gabriel5050, developing tinnitus can be distressing at first, the arrival of these new sounds can be unnerving until you do some research and find out what is happening to you. Then it’s time to take a deep breath and asses your situation.

      Tinnitus is a common problem affecting 15 - 20% of the population. The great majority are not deeply affected by this and lead normal lives. Are there catastrophic cases that don’t resolve, sure, and many of them are here. They represent about 1% of the tinnitus population. This is sad and tragic and my heart goes out to all long term sufferers but it is rare. Even here it is not the majority of people. In time the sounds even go completely away for many. The total experience that you are going to have with tinnitus will be a combination of the volume and sounds themselves and equally important your emotional reaction to the whole situation. Some take a rather chill attitude towards the whole thing and others launch into panic mode. It doesn’t make us good or bad, strong or weak - just different. My tendency towards hyper focus, extreme attention to detail, doing constant "what ifs" about the future made me very successful in my career and allowed me to retire early. Pretty positive stuff. Apply the same techniques here and we have the recipe for a disaster. New skills must be learned. I am definitely not considered weak or defective but I also definitely needed to learn new skills, I am not naturally a chill personality. I am rather intense.

      Some combination of: Hyper-focus, anger, fear, resentment, blame, guilt, etc about its arrival. Consumed with fear about the future with catastrophic "what if" thinking. An intense fear/panic loop that is self-reinforcing and makes all of this considerably worse. No judgement, these are all real emotions and things that we have almost all experienced at one time or another in our lives. Research shows that these emotions, our thoughts, deeply effect our chemistry and physical symptoms. If a person is shown a film of a bulging disk and told this will always result in pain and that the only fix is risky surgery, they are much more likely to experience chronic unresolved pain. Turns out that at a given age the rate of spinal abnormalities are roughly the same between the symptomatic and asymptomatic population. Sure some may need surgery but for many time, restoring strength and flexibility or posture and muscle balance is what is needed.

      In order to get through this in one piece and go on to have a normal life, these emotions have to be under control. For those of us that have had difficulty with this (including me), we have to learn or relearn the skills necessary to push tinnitus into the background to the extent possible and move our focus onto other things. A high level summary, we must:

      Give our ears a rest after the injury, if identified (sound, ototoxicity drugs, stress) and use sensible and rational protection to prevent reinjury. For many this is relaxed with time.

      Remind yourself that your brain has made up these sounds and they cannot physically hurt you.

      Stay out of the catastrophic threads here, especially initially. Helpful for some but not healthy for a new sufferer.

      Put balance back in our lives with sleep, everything we consume, stress, toxic relationships, etc.

      Contain any really intense early reaction that is unhealthy, go get help from a medical professional - body and emotions.

      Rule out any treatable cause.

      Settle down and learn to relax with exercise, yoga, meditation, positive imagery - whatever works for you.

      Deal with any issues with anger, rage, extreme fear, panic, depression. Get help if needed.

      Learn techniques to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future, to live in the moment.

      Learn techniques to make peace with tinnitus and stop focusing on it, push it to the background and focus on the positive things you want in your life and how to achieve them.

      Look for joy and happiness in your life every day, even if just for a moment. Never waste a good day.

      You are likely going to get through this fine but you are going to need to settle down and address why you are so hyper-focused on this before you move to a new unnecessary phase of self-reinforcing fear and panic. If you have had other issues in your life before this happened with similar experiences, start there with professional help if needed. Prior anxiety, depression, trauma, hyper-focus on illnesses, etc. If you like DIY, there are many good books and training programs.

      We are here to help with a great deal of knowledge and experience available, I hope that you can settle down and get better. I will help you if I can. Others here have a lot to offer as well.

      Love to all my brothers and sisters here who suffer.

      George
       
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    22. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Gabriel5050
      Dead

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      @ajc, this is actually the kind of response I was expecting. Because on a logical level I know I should be ok, but I have this fear of power tools because of the very "harsh" sound. I have encountered loud cars and motorcycles that were around the same loudness but those don't seem to bother me as much. Thanks for the reality check.

      @MindOverMatter, I will try to seek help from a psychologist provided by the university when we begin the semester in October. Otherwise I am tight on money now. Thank you for the suggestion.
       
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    23. dan
      Chatty

      dan Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Toronto, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise
      I wouldn't go that far! A bomb exploding is 160 dB plus the shockwave.
       
    24. junior ramano

      junior ramano Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe loud noise
      But isn't that "(NRR - 7) / 2" equation for converting dB protection to dBA? I got confused now.
       
    25. junior ramano

      junior ramano Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe loud noise
      Even without protection, 78 dB for 30 minutes seems not harmful to me.
       
    26. junior ramano

      junior ramano Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe loud noise
      Yeah. Tinnitus shouldn't stop you from doing the things you like.
       
    27. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      So I've done more investigating and found this literature:

      What exactly is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)?
      And how does derating impact your hearing protection requirements?


      It states that 7 should be subtracted from the NRR to get it's rating in dBA. I guess the NRR is actually C-weighted. I never knew that.

      Then there is a recognized derating to take into account real life conditions such as improper fit by subtracting from the NRR:
      • 25% for earmuffs,
      • 50% for reusable or foam earplugs
      • 70%, for all other earplug
      I just did a little test. I turned on white noise until I could I just hear it and measured with my decibel meter. Then put in 32 dB NRR earplugs, turned the volume up until I could just hear it, and measured that on my decibel meter.

      It came out to: 59.5 dBA - 34.4 dBA = 25.1 dBA.

      So they provide less than the NRR rating (because the of conversion to dBA) but more than the 12.5 dBA that the derating formula gives.
       

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