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Common FAQs About Ear Protection

Sets of Earplugs

For those that work in noisy environments or enjoy hobbies that regularly produce a lot of noise ear protection is essential. Your hearing care provider can help you choose the most effective form of ear protection, but let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about the necessity and the function of these devices first.

How does ear protection work?

Ear protection is designed to fight the risks of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It does this primarily by stopping unsafe levels of noise from reaching inside the ear. Unsafe noise levels are most frequently defined as anything over 85 decibels (dB). Ear protection ranges from common workplace equipment like earmuffs and disposable earbuds to custom-molded ear protection that often comes with certain features to help make it more appropriate for the environment in which you want to use them.

What are the risks of not using ear protection?

The greatest risk of not using ear protection is the development of noise-induced hearing loss. Excessive noise can damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, which catch and transmit sound to the brain. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be repaired, replaced or regrown, so preventing any harm to them is important. What’s more, many people experience tinnitus alongside NIHL. Other issues associated with frequent exposure to loud noise include stress, nervousness, sleep deprivation and feelings of isolation.

What are some examples of unsafe levels of noise?

If you’re uncertain whether or not you’re regularly exposed to sources of dangerously loud noises, it’s a good idea to talk to your hearing care provider about it. However, some examples of noises around or slightly above 85 dB include lawn mowers, heavy traffic, hand drills, motorcycles and forklift trucks. Noises even louder than that, such as firearms, chainsaws, sirens and rock concerts can be even more dangerous. The louder the noise, the more damage it can do relative to the amount of time you are exposed to it.

Do I need ear protection if I already have hearing loss?

Regardless of the current hearing health of your ears, ear protection is always a wise choice. Hearing loss comes in different severities, from mild to profound. Without the protection from noise that your ears may require, your hearing loss can progress and get worse underexposure from noise.

How do I choose the most effective form of ear protection?

Your hearing care provider can help you select from a range of ear protection. Custom-molded ear protection can ensure that your ears are completely protected, without as much of the discomfort associated with more generic disposable earplugs. What’s more, sophisticated ear protection can help protect you from specific sources of noise, often defined by categories of “passive” or “active” and may be able to help you stop blocking other types of noise so that, for instance, you are still able to communicate and understand speech effectively.

If you believe that you’re in need of ear protection, get in touch with your hearing care provider today. Not only can they help you choose the most effective kind, but they can also identify any existing issues you might have with hearing loss.