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Why Do I Get Headaches from Wearing Ear Protection and How to Avoid It
Why Do I Get Headaches from Wearing Ear Protection and How to Avoid It
by Paula Li,

Why Do I Get Headaches from Wearing Ear Protection and How to Avoid It

Hearing protection is a non-negotiable element in shooting sports. However, a common complaint among shooters is the onset of headaches after wearing ear protection for extended periods. Understanding why this happens and how to prevent it is key to a comfortable shooting experience.

Types of headaches

Understanding the Cause

The primary cause of headaches when wearing ear protection, especially earmuffs, is often due to the clamping force exerted on the sides of the head. This pressure, while necessary to ensure a proper seal for noise reduction, can cause discomfort and tension headaches. Additionally, wearing earmuffs that are too tight, too heavy, or poorly fitted can exacerbate this issue.

Selection is Key

1. Right Fit and Size

Selecting the right ear protection is crucial. Earmuffs come in various shapes and sizes, and what works for one person might not work for another. It's essential to choose earmuffs that fit well without being overly tight. Look for adjustable models that allow you to modify the fit to your comfort.

2. Weight Matters

The weight of the earmuffs can also contribute to discomfort. Lighter models tend to exert less pressure and are more comfortable for long-term use. While shopping, consider the weight of the earmuffs as a significant factor in your decision.

EXO Pro Bluetooth

Comfort Enhancements

1. Padded Headbands

Some earmuffs come with padded headbands, which can significantly improve comfort. These pads can reduce the pressure on the top of the head, thereby lessening the likelihood of headaches.

Padded headband

2. Gel Seals

Consider earmuffs with gel seals. Gel seals conform better to the shape of your head and ears, distributing pressure more evenly than standard foam cushions. This even distribution of pressure can help minimize the risk of headaches. 

gel pads for earmuffs

Usage Tips

1. Break Periods

Taking regular breaks from wearing earmuffs can help prevent headaches. Remove your ear protection every hour or so to give your head and ears a rest. This practice can alleviate pressure and improve blood circulation.

2. Proper Adjustment

Regularly adjust the fit of your earmuffs throughout your shooting session. Sometimes, a slight repositioning can relieve pressure points and prevent discomfort.

3. Hydration and Nutrition

Dehydration and low blood sugar can contribute to headaches. Ensure you stay well-hydrated and have eaten adequately before spending long hours at the range.

Alternatives to Consider

1. Earplugs

If earmuffs aren’t working for you, consider earplugs. They don't exert pressure around the head, making them a good alternative for those prone to pressure-induced headaches. However, be aware of their noise reduction capabilities compared to earmuffs.

Ear plugs

2. Combination Approach

For high-noise environments, using earplugs in conjunction with lighter earmuffs can offer adequate protection without the discomfort of heavy earmuffs.

Consult a Professional

If you continue to experience headaches despite trying these tips, it may be worth consulting with a healthcare professional or an audiologist. They can offer personalized advice and might suggest custom-fitted ear protection.

Seeing an audiologist

Final Thoughts

Headaches from wearing ear protection can mar the shooting experience, but they can often be avoided with the right selection and usage strategies. Prioritizing comfort without compromising on safety will ensure a more enjoyable and pain-free time at the range.

If you are looking for ear protection that offers all the comfort enhancements and protection level for shooting, check out our EXO earmuff line. The gel cushions make these one of the most comfortable and protective earmuffs on the market. 


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