Police Officer or Park Ranger — Career in Law Enforcement with Pre-Existing Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by mknature, May 24, 2022.

    1. mknature
      Wishful

      mknature Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013 (quiet), 5/2020 (loud)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      hearing loss / ototoxicity / viruses
      Hi,

      I've recently rejoined and posted about a spike I experienced/am experiencing. I am wondering, now, mostly about my future in the law enforcement and park ranger field. The training I have coming up is BLET (basic law enforcement training), firearms (with protection), and chainsaw safety training. I will need to shoot a Glock and a shotgun to qualify in firearms. Unfortunately, I have no former experience in shooting or guns, so I don't know how my ears will react to the firearms. My tinnitus is either from progressive idiopathic hearing loss, ototoxicity, or noise exposure plus stress (the tinnitus didn't appear till 2020, and I was definitely not going to any concerts then), so I don't necessarily have a history of noise-induced trauma.

      Prior to this spike, I've thought that I'll be fine as long as I ALWAYS wear hearing protection, but now I'm not so sure that's going to work. My reaction to the spike has been almost a "reset" even though I felt I was habituated. Even the thought of having to work through the trauma all over again (for a third time) is hard.

      This has me wondering: who else has had to make this decision? I love this career, but not at the cost of my mental health. I also hate to just give up due to fear. I'd be glad for any other responses or experiences. Thanks.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Barry098
      No Mood

      Barry098 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud Music
      Find a new career...

      I think shotgun blasts are something like 155 dB. High quality foam earplugs (when worn correctly) are rated at 32 dB so that means that you are still exposing your ears to something like 123 dB with earplugs in. Double protection might help a bit more but the over the earmuffs tend to accentuate the lower frequencies so it could actually amplify the bass response of the blast. Any way you look at it, exposure to gun fire (even with maximum protection) will damage your hearing.

      Tinnitus is forcing me to rethink my career...
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    3. KoolKat

      KoolKat Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      HeadPhones/ Noise induced
      Aside from the loud noise, stress is another reason, and tinnitus spikes with stress. If you really want to be apart of this *cough* corrupt *ahem* justice system and help people, I suggest either doing something in the office like finger print work or filing paper. But I don't know what city you're in or if you're in the countryside or not. The city I'm in it gets a little hectic.

      Don't do it. It's not worth it. Learn a trade like coding or maybe remote customer service and take it from there.

      The best thing we can do as a community is help get tinnitus the attention it deserves so we can angle for massive treatment. I know it freaking sucks. I lost so much to this stupid disorder.

      Good thing is you might be just in time for a treatment in the upcoming years if things go right.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You have had tinnitus since 2013, and usually a person would have habituated to it within two years. Then it increased in 2020.

      Unless you have an underlying medical problem that is causing the tinnitus, the most common reason for it increasing in 2020, and for the recent spike that you mention, is exposure to sound. The sound does not necessarily have to be loud. My experience in this field makes be believe you have noise induced tinnitus which you may not be aware of.

      If you have regularly been listening to audio through any type of headphones, including earbuds, AirPods or headsets. Any of these devices could have caused your spike. Spikes are usually caused by sound.

      If I were in your situation I would think very carefully before shooting a gun. It doesn't matter how good the hearing protection is, if external sound is loud enough, it will pass through the head and transfer to the inner ear by bone conduction. This can spike the tinnitus. If a person is fortunate the spike might reduce or it could increase the tinnitus to a new permanent level.

      Exposure to loud noise and headphone use, even at low volume, is not good for tinnitus especially if it is noise induced.

      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    5. LilCC

      LilCC Member

      Location:
      Florida, U.S
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Exposure to loud noises
      Don’t do it. Find a new career.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    6. Brian Newman

      Brian Newman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Shooting/loud noise
      So if I were you I would think very hard about this. We’re getting close to ear regeneration, and many tinnitus treatments, so that’s good, but shooting with tinnitus is still a slippery slope. I know people who do it and are fine, others do it and get worse. All depends on the person, you have to ask yourself, can you live with it getting worse? If you shoot doubled up and use a silencer, I would say do it, that should be ok. Anything unsuppressed is risky. Surprisingly there’s worse than hearing loss and tinnitus. I found that out the hard way lol. Noxacusis is a bitch!

      I actually have an old Xbox friend who’s a cop in Chicago, and he has tinnitus and mild noxacusis from the military, he puts cotton in his ears to help with the pain, when he responds to calls he puts his hearing protection in just in case. He shoots at the range and he’s ok, but he said he doesn’t like to do that often because of his ear issues. Most cases usually don’t get worse unless you really abuse your ears. I won’t compare it to my case because my case is ridiculous.

      But yeah man, only shoot suppressed, doubled up and you should be all good.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    7. kingsfan
      Haunting

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Coolifornia
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      I'm not super familiar with the process of becoming a park ranger, but I do believe there are avenues that don't take the path of law enforcement training. You would be doing more park conservation work and education rather than the law enforcement part, but I believe a lot of the rangers have environmental and biology type degrees.
       
    8. Kriszti

      Kriszti Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016/2017/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I hate to say it, but I would also choose a different career path other than law enforcement. I agree with posters above me, if you don't want to do office work, having to deal with firearms regularly is really a big risk, that I personally wouldn't take. It is not fear, I think it is a rational decision especially if you struggle with habituating to spikes.

      Also, look up how to adjust the NRR ratings of earplugs. Unfortunately you cannot count on them providing the exact NRR rating written on them.
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      mknature
      Wishful

      mknature Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013 (quiet), 5/2020 (loud)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      hearing loss / ototoxicity / viruses
      Thanks, all, for your replies. If you read/hear from anyone else who has experience with doubled-up ear pro on an outdoor range, please send them my way! I know everyone is different, but I want to just hear how they got on.
       
    10. dan
      Chatty

      dan Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Toronto, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise
      I don't think you would pass the physical to become a cop with hearing loss/tinnitus. So there's that...
       
    11. Rockman

      Rockman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise, allergy
      I like what @kingsfan said about different States that don't require using a firearm. That's what I would look into.
       
    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      mknature
      Wishful

      mknature Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013 (quiet), 5/2020 (loud)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      hearing loss / ototoxicity / viruses
      In case anyone was curious, following up on the end of my story. I did enter BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) in July 2022 after testing my double-hearing protection at the audiologist. She basically vacillated between "it's a risk" and "you'll probably be ok." The director of the BLET program would not let me shoot with a silencer, as I would not be carrying a silencer around on my sidearm at work. They were not concerned with my hearing loss or wearing of hearing aids. I just had to wear the hearing aids while on duty.

      However, I didn't ever make it to the shooting range. I made it to SCAT (Subject Control Arrest Techniques) and realized that the subjection of my body to various stress events would never really end. It's a lifestyle, a "you really have to want it" type of training. I never really wanted Law Enforcement; I just wanted to make a halfway decent salary doing something that interested me and helping people and the environment. Therein ended my career as a State Ranger, unfortunately, and now I am searching for a job, not really knowing what to do with myself. The tinnitus is pretty loud and overwhelming most days, as I am finding it hard to stitch together enough work to pay the bills. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, lol. Thanks for listening.
       
      • Hug Hug x 4
    13. ashcash

      ashcash Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma (Bar Music 9/2019) (worsened by MRI 12/2019)
      It looks like you've decided against it but just in case others had the same question I would definitely say to look for another career. I wanted to be an FBI agent but decided against it for similar reasons. I used to go shooting with double protection pre-tinnitus and it was very loud, I would never go anywhere near that stuff now or in a career that might require me to pull a gun without my protection on at all.
       
    14. ECP

      ECP Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      being a caregiver for an elderly lady who is hard of hearing
      Hi @mknature, I'm pretty new around here, so I didn't know your story until I read it yesterday. I'm so sorry this career path didn't work out for you.

      Judging by your username, it was obvious to me that you would be an outdoorsy person who cares about the environment. There are actually a lot of jobs out there that aren't in the national or state parks system but which still allow you to be outside, helping the environment or teaching people to do the same.

      Have you looked at local botanical gardens, for example? Sometimes they need paid employees or volunteers to give tours to visitors or help with landscaping. And then there a lot of nonprofits out there that work on conservation efforts. Some of those jobs will have you sitting at a desk, which may not be your cup of tea, but it's still good experience and you never know when the opportunity will arise to make a lateral move into a job that is more to your liking.

      Your local government may also have openings for "naturalists." The exact job description for a naturalist will vary, and not every government will even use that word in the job title, but basically a naturalist is someone who goes out into the field on a regular basis to collect data about something, such as the water quality of a river or the viability of natural habitats for endangered animals.

      Don't lose hope. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how the job search goes. I'd hate to see tinnitus and hyperacusis hold anybody back from finding a career they like.
       
Loading...

Share This Page