Your hearing must be protected when it will be exposed to loud noises. Without protection, there is the possibility of a permanent loss occurring. Any noise levels above 85 dB run this risk. There’s also the issue of loud noises causing physical pain when they are encountered. The different types of hearing protection available today give you a wide variety of options that allow you to avoid this damage.
Which type of hearing protection is right for you? Here are the most common options available on the market today, what they protect against, and why they might be your best option today.
- Earplugs. This is the most common type of hearing protection available today. Many earplugs are made from a soft silicone or foam material so they will conform to your ear canal. You can also order earplugs that are custom molded or molded into a one-size-fits-all wearing experience. This type of hearing protection may be reusable, but not every type has multi-use options assigned to it. Earplugs are often great for sleeping, snoring issues, and riding a motorcycle.
- Insertable plugs. You’ll often find medical advice that warns against inserting anything into your ear canal. For the most part, this is good advice. One of the exceptions to this rule might be the insertable earplugs that are available today. These are worn like a set of headphones, but the two earplugs on either side are held in place instead of floating about like removable earplugs can sometimes do.
- Earmuffs. This type of hearing protection is made from a sound reducing material that completely encompasses your ear. It’s like wearing a set of over-the-ear headphones, except the goal is to keep sounds out. Some modern models include a headset built into the hearing protection so you can speak to people in high noise environments with relative ease. Look for the decibel rating on earmuffs to make sure that your preferred pair can stand up to the environment in which you’ll find yourself. Earmuffs work best for continuous high noise issues, like working at an airport, dock, or warehouse. Some earmuffs are strong enough to work at the gun range as well.
- Electronic ear protection. Ironically one of the most effective methods of canceling out high noise levels is to amplify the ambient noises in your current environment. This is what electronic ear protection provides. It will also automatically cut out any sounds that register above a certain rating – many models list this at 82 dB. This works because there are stereo microphones that are directionally placed on the hearing protection so the sounds are picked up and then transmitted naturally. This type of hearing protection is great for sporting events, the gun range, and other high noise environments that are continuous.
- Hi-Fi hearing protection. Sometimes the loudest sounds are at a specific frequency range. Instead of reducing all sounds from the environment, a more effective method of hearing protection would be to reduce the sound wave frequencies that are at dangerous levels. Hi-Fi hearing protection works by filtering out the sounds that are in a specific frequency range while leaving the other frequencies alone. This is particularly useful for musicians and fans who attend regular concerts because it provides clarity within the music while reducing dangerous noise levels by 19 dB or more depending on your preferred hearing protection product.
- White noise ear protection. This type of hearing protection is like a hybrid of Hi-Fi and electronic protection methods. Instead of reducing noises or amplifying others, white noise is played through the over-the-ear protectors to drown out the bothersome sound waves that could be trying to cause damage to your hearing. These are effective for short-term noise exposures.
- Child-specific hearing protection. Adults aren’t the only ones who need to have hearing protection. Infants, toddlers, and children also need to protect their hearing from loud noises and adult products aren’t always designed to meet their specific needs. Look for child-specific earmuffs that will reduce sounds to acceptable levels for the environment in which you expect to find your family.
Hearing protection comes in different forms because the most effective method of noise reduction varies based on your unique situation. Match up the type that will work best for your needs, use the online reviews found here to find the product that will reduce sounds most effectively, and you’ll lower the risks of experiencing hearing loss the next time you’re exposed to loud noises.