I learned the value of hearing protection while in high school. My buddies and I set up a practical pistol course in some erosion ditches. We shot pistols for better part of the day. None of us were wearing hearing protection. When I got home I realized that I could barely hear and could not tell direction of sounds. Got my attention. My ears have had a loud constant ring in them for so long I can not remember life with out that ringing!
Now I do not load a firearm with out having hearing protection in place. I hunt with ear plugs in place lightly. On the range I wear both plugs and muffs.
People need to understand that damage can occur even with ear plugs in place. The sound and damage can and will be transmitted through the bones behind the ear. That is why I wear muffs as well. I want to cover the bones behind the ear.
I too have trouble hearing people's voices especially if I can not see their lips move and or if there is a lot of background noise. That is the range of hearing that muzzle report damages.
So, WEAR HEARING PROTECTION!!! Even outside and even with only one shot from a small caliber rifle causes hearing damage. And it ain't reversible!
When surrounded by your enemies, sometimes the best thing to do is to Shut Up!