3 Facts about Ear Protection
It’s almost impossible to avoid noisy situations. In many cases, we can anticipate our exposure to loud noises and take steps to protect our hearing. But sometimes even a short, quick burst of noise can damage our hearing. How can we reduce our exposure to dangerous noise? Here are three facts about ear protection.
Ear protection reduces the volume of sound
Sound is measured in decibels. The higher the number, the louder the sound. Regular activities around the house can have decibel (dB) levels that go far above the 85 dB range, which is the point at which you may suffer noise-induced hearing loss. Ear protection has what is called a noise reduction rating. This number generally indicates the level of noise reduction provided by the product. For example, if you’re riding a motorcycle that’s 95 dB, earplugs with a 20 rating will reduce the noise to around 75 dB.
Ear protection comes in different styles
There are different types of ear protection for different situations. These include disposable foam and silicone earplugs, custom earplugs and earmuffs. Disposable earplugs work well for reducing noise at night for light sleepers, listening to live music or working in moderately noisy environments. You usually can hear conversation while wearing disposable earplugs. Most foam earplugs can be used just a few times before their effectiveness is reduced and they should be discarded.
Custom earplugs are molded to fit your ears. If you have to wear earplugs daily, these are comfortable and are made to last for several years. A hearing professional can make the earplugs for you or there are at-home molds available. These earplugs must be cleaned daily to remove any earwax and bacteria.
Earmuffs also have sound-blocking ability. They’re used by workers exposed to loud noises and at home when you’re using power tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers and other machinery. If your sports include shooting or motor events, you’re probably familiar with earmuffs.
Ear protection can prevent noise-induced hearing loss
High decibel noise exposure may come in short bursts or can last longer – for example, an alarm versus a movie theater. In either case, that exposure can lead to hearing loss. Ear protection provides a barrier of sorts that reduces sound decibels to a safer level. As we mentioned above, exposure to sound over 85 dB can damage hearing. Normal conversation may be around 60 dB. Earplugs and earmuffs are designed to tamp down sound.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur at any time and it can happen to anyone, young or old. Sometimes it’s temporary, but often it’s gradual and permanent. One of the leading causes of noise-induced hearing loss is extremely preventable, and that is listening to music through headphones or earbuds.
Depending on where you work and what activities you enjoy, your exposure to loud noises varies. With these three facts about ear protection, you can be prepared when you use power tools, mow the lawn, ride a motorcycle or snowmobile, or attend a music event.
If you’re considering ear protection and aren’t sure where to start, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. The audiologist will be able to recommend the best options for your specific needs.