When it comes to your hearing, prevention is better than cure when it comes to hearing loss. The last thing you want is hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises that can damage your hearing over time.

Protecting your hearing is as simple as ensuring you wear the proper hearing protection for different activities. For example, a child visiting a one-off concert will likely need different hearing protection than an adult working on an airfield or the military day in, day out. This is when the proper hearing protection can be the most effective.

When Do You Need Hearing Protection?

Audiologists are unanimous in that everyone should be protecting their hearing when exposed to loud noises, be it occasionally or frequently. This can be due to your work environment or hobbies and activities in which you partake.

Hearing protection works by absorbing the sound and vibrations before damaging the cells and membranes in the cochlea. When these cells and membranes become damaged, you can experience hearing loss of varying degrees depending on the damage and your exposure. Generally speaking, you should wear hearing protection when noise levels hit or exceed 85 decibels (dBs).

To put this into perspective, a typical concert can reach 120 decibels, so those working in this industry should wear hearing protection to avoid hearing loss over time. Sustained and prolonged exposure over time can cause damage, so knowing how to choose the proper protection for your hearing will help you to preserve your hearing and avoid permanent damage.

Choosing the Proper Hearing Protection for Your Activity

 Hearing protection comes with a noise reduction rating (NRR), allowing you to see how many decibels the product can protect against, much like sunscreen. For example, earplugs can block up to 15 decibels of noise, meaning if you are exposed to 100 decibels, you will be protected against 15 taking you back to the safe noise exposure limits.

The NRR rating can vary from product to product, offering different levels of protection. For this reason, knowing the NRR rating of the products you are using and how well they can protect your hearing will go a long way to helping preserve hearing and prevent unwanted hearing loss this type of exposure can cause.

What Type of Hearing Protection Can You Buy?

Hearing protection can come in three basic forms:

  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs
  • Ear defenders

Each type of ear protection can come in different styles and shapes; for example, you can buy pre-molded earplugs that are designed to be discarded after one use and are a universal shape or you can get custom-made earplugs for your ears. You can also get reusable earplugs, banded earplugs and corded earplugs for ongoing use.

The same applies to earmuffs and ear defenders. All products come with different levels of hearing protection, NRR and sizes to accommodate a wide range of job roles, noisy environments and activities.

How Loud is the Environment? 

The first thing you need to consider is the volume of sound you will come into contact with for the activity. For example, noise at a gun range can exceed 140 decibels, so ear protection is a must. Preferably in the form of ear defenders or earmuffs.

How Long Will You Be Exposed?

The length of exposure to loud noises is what causes hearing loss. For example, visiting concerts sporadically are unlikely to cause much damage; however, being a musician or in proximity to speakers, over time can lead to hearing loss. In this case, you need hearing protection that can withstand and block out excessive noise, such as banded earplugs designed specifically for musicians to allow you to still hear the music for total accuracy.

What Level of Protection Is Provided?

As mentioned above, different hearing products can offer different levels of protection. Disposable earplugs can provide limited protection making some unsuitable for extremely loud noises. At the same time, electronic ear defenders allow you to adjust the sound coming through to an acceptable level, making them ideal for different situations, such as airfields or construction sites. However, you find custom-fit hearing protection products that offer a more comfortable fit with the right level of sound protection for you.

Wearing hearing protection is one of the best ways to ensure you are preserving your hearing. However, if you have any concerns about your hearing or want to discuss the correct type of protection for your ears, contact Arkansas Professional Hearing Care at (501) 588-0177.

Tags: hearing loss prevention tips