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Did you know that most permanent hearing loss is preventable? The most common sort of hearing loss occurring today is noise related hearing loss, caused by exposure to dangerously loud sounds. Noise related hearing loss is cumulative, meaning that any hearing ability that we lose is never recovered and subsequent hearing damage worsens our hearing over time.
If most hearing loss is preventable, how do we go about preventing it? Using hearing protection is a great way to muffle harmful noise levels and protect your hearing from taking the brunt of an overly loud sound. There is a wide variety in the design and effectiveness of hearing protection, so talk to your hearing specialist about what is the best fit for your needs.
Understanding Noise Reduction
The amount of protection offered by ear plugs or earmuffs is measured with a rating number called NRR, the Noise Reduction Rating. The higher the NRR number, the more protection a product offers although NRR numbers do not reflect the exact amount of decibel reduction a product can achieve. The actual decibels of noise reduction that an NRR number indicates is usually around half of the NRR number, so ear plugs with an NRR of 28 offer around 14 dB of noise reduction.
The highest rated earplugs have an NRR of 33 while the highest rated earmuffs have an NRR of 31. Used in combination, earmuffs and ear plugs can boost noise reduction by 5 dB added to the protection of the highest NRR rating. For example, using ear plugs rated at NRR 30 and earmuffs rated at NRR 26, the total protection would be 15 dB (the higher NRR, 30, divided by 2) plus 5 dB (additional protection from using ear muffs) for a total noise reduction of 20 dB.
Custom Molded Ear Plugs
If you are frequently exposed to dangerous noise levels, you may want to consider custom molded ear plugs. Custom molded hearing protection is fitted exactly to the shape of your ear canal. To create a custom molded ear plug, a cast of the ear canal is taken by the hearing specialist. The fitted ear plug is then crafted from silicone.
Custom molded ear plugs have several advantages over other sorts of hearing protection. Unlike disposable ear plugs, custom molded plugs last up to 5 years if taken care of. They also offer better protection than disposable ear foam ear plugs and superior comfort. One-size-fits-all disposable plugs are often ill-fitting for those with small or large ear canals, and when they aren’t worn correctly, they endanger hearing. Molded earplugs are shaped specifically to the ear, and give an easy, perfect fit every time.
Custom molded earplugs can also be tailored to the level of noise reduction desired, anywhere between 15 dB and 30 dB (decibels). Unlike foam disposables, custom molded earplugs can be made to perfectly suit the job at hand. When your everyday life includes environments with dangerous noise levels, custom molded earplugs will also save you money over disposables.
Another option for noise protection is using protective ear muffs. They can be coupled with ear plugs to increase noise reduction, or used on their own. Ear muffs that take advantage of electronic sound reduction can help dampen noise for special situations where normal, safe noise levels are punctuated by bursts of loud noise. Situations like hunting and working with firearms may benefit especially from using electronic noise reduction which blocks excessive noise while allowing safe sounds to be fully heard.
Hearing Protection from Your Hearing Specialist
Concerned about your hearing? Protecting your hearing is key to minimizing your risk of hearing loss. Keep your ears safe with personal hearing protection. Here at Hearing Health, we can help you assess your hearing protection needs and find the solution that works for your lifestyle. Whether you opt for custom molded ear plugs or want to know the best way to maximize your hearing protection’s capacity, Hearing Health will work with you to find the right solution.
Most hearing loss is related to exposure to dangerously loud noise, and by simply reducing our noise exposure and protecting our hearing we greatly reduce our hearing loss risk. Don’t wait another day- protect your hearing now with help from Hearing Health!