Noise-induced hearing loss is very common and permanent, yet preventable. Exposure to loud sounds over a period of time or even loud, impulse sounds can lead to permanent hearing loss. The U.S. has created Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) and standards to regulate permissible noise exposure levels within the workplace. However, it is up to the individual to regulate the exposure recreationally.
There are several styles of hearing protection, as well as different levels of NRR. The higher the NRR, the greater the protection.
Disposable, Foam Plugs
They can be purchased over the counter in any pharmacy. This style can be difficult to properly insert into the ear. Often, they are not inserted properly to provide the maximum amount of protection.
Temporary, Pre-Formed Plugs
These are easier to insert, as they are coned shaped or pre-formed to fit the ear. However, they provide less protection because they generally do not fit deep into the ear or occlude the ear as well.
These offer a wide range of NRRs. Some electronic models are available that have capabilities to enhance communications and amplify soft sounds within the environment while reducing loud sounds. This style is common among avid hunters and shooters. However, they are bulky and can be warm or uncomfortable if wearing for long periods of time during the summer months.
Custom Ear Plugs
These also offer a wide range of NRRs. They are custom made to fit the ear. Therefore, they are comfortable and easy to insert. The cost is generally higher, but they can be used for up to 5 years if not abused and well maintained. This style can make communication difficult.
Midwest ENT Centre’s audiology department supplies, orders and will custom fit you for your hearing protection device.