Coaches and referees blowing whistles……..By Dr. Richard Reikowski, Au.D Family Hearing and Balance Center


Volleyball, basketball, hockey coaches and referees…..Do you notice a change in hearing sensitivity or an awareness of tinnitus after blowing whistles? I have seen common ground in those that notice intolerance to sounds and having used whistles in sporting events or careers. Also, tinnitus, ringing in the ears, can become more pronounced with whistle use for coaches and referees.


Does the sensitivity or intolerance to sound increase with regular use of whistles? The answer to this I believe is yes. Whistles, and the volume in which they are blown, do reach levels that can cause a change in hearing. There can be a temporary change in hearing or commonly called temporary threshold shift. This is commonly seen in people that work in excessive noisy environments.

Loud noises are a stressor and can change the perception of hearing sounds from a loudness standpoint and can increase tinnitus, or the unwanted sounds heard in our ears and head. It is wise to use noise plugs to decrease these excessive noise levels.

We have helped coaches and referees with custom noise plugs that effectively reduce the loudness of sounds and thus allow the conversational speech or normal levels of loudness to be heard. By this, the use of noise protection, we help to reduce noise intolerance/sensitivity to sounds, as well as hope to decrease or limit the onset of tinnitus.

Our Audiology staff are here to offer help those with sound intolerance or those having tinnitus.

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  1. Jen

    Very interesting. Something that we don’t think about until sometimes it’s to late!
    I’m thankful for information like this.
    Thank you.

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