Many of us take steps to improve our health and lower the risk of illnesses and diseases. Prevention is always better than cure, and this is a mantle we like to adopt as hearing professionals. It may not be possible to eliminate the risk of hearing loss completely, but there are ways of protecting your ears and reducing the risk of hearing loss linked to exposure to high noise levels. If you work in a noisy environment, or you have a hobby that involves intense, loud sounds, here’s a handy guide to choosing the right hearing protection.

Types of hearing protection

There are different types of hearing protection available, and some may suit you better than others. The most common examples include:

  • Earplugs: These are designed to fit inside the ears, and they are small, discrete devices. Earplugs come in a range of styles and colors, and they can be used for many purposes, including blocking out noise to help you sleep at night and facilitating concentration at the office. Earplugs may also be a valuable investment if you commute to work via the metro or subway, for example. There are different types of earplugs available, including musicians’ earplugs, which are specially designed to filter out noises at certain pitches. This enables you to hear at the same time as protecting your ears. Other examples include earplugs for surfing, shooting, and motorsports. You can buy disposable or reusable earplugs, and audiologists also offer customized earplugs for a perfect fit.
  • Ear protectors: Ear protectors, also known as ear defenders or earmuffs, are often used by people who work in loud settings, for example, construction sites. They look similar to headphones that are worn over the ears, and they cover the entire surface of the outer ear. If you work with heavy-duty, vibrating tools, you work in a concert or live music venue, or your job involves operating in train stations or airports or on the roads, you may be advised to use ear defenders.

Should I be using hearing protection?

Most of us encounter loud noises from time to time, usually when we go to a party, a sports game or a concert. Being exposed to high levels of noise on an occasional basis won’t damage your hearing in the long run, but if your ears come into contact with loud noises regularly, it’s worth investigating hearing protection. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to try and protect your ears in environments where the noise level exceeds 85 decibels. This is equivalent to the noise produced by a lawnmower, for example. If you have a job that requires you to work in a busy, noisy setting, or you use equipment or tools that generate a lot of noise, it’s wise to invest in earplugs or ear defenders. You may also benefit from wearing earplugs if you’re exposed to street noise or the noise generated by trains, subway trains or urban traffic on a daily basis. 

Tips to help you choose the right hearing protection

There are many different types of hearing protection, so how do you know which device is best for you? If you’re unsure, here are three top tips:

  • Think about your lifestyle: There are several kinds of earplugs, which are suited to different activities and hobbies, for example, hunting, playing musical instruments, shooting, and swimming. Think about why you need earplugs, and how and where you plan to use them. Your audiologist can help you pinpoint the best option if you’re not sure which kind to choose.
  • Consider your job: Some jobs carry a high risk of hearing loss. If you work on a construction site, for example, you will be exposed to loud noises continually. Ear defenders are often recommended for occupations that involve working outdoors.
  • Invest in the best level of protection you can afford: Some devices and appliances offer superior levels of protection. If you’re exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, it’s always a good idea to invest in the best protection you can afford to prevent damage to your ears. If you have a budget in mind, your audiologist can make recommendations based on your requirements and preferences.

Our hearing is something we should never take for granted. We live in an increasingly noisy world, and damage to the ears can accelerate hearing loss. If you are exposed to loud noises through work or your hobbies, we strongly recommend investing in hearing protection. If you have any questions, or you’d like to find out more, we’d be happy to help! Call Salyer Hearing Center at one of our following locations, Sylva: 828-586-7474, Franklin: 828-524-5599 or Murphy: 828-835-1014 today.