4 Fitting Choices to Protect your Hearing
Did you know day-to-day activities or ones you do for entertainment could be detrimental to your hearing?
These different activities require specific equipment to do the job properly. In the same way, when protecting your hearing you wouldn’t go to a music gig wearing industrial headphones nor would you operate a hydraulic drill in just earplugs.
Different noise soundscapes demand different types of ear protection, so let’s take a look at the options.
The most basic way of protecting your ears against excessive noise is the good old earplug. These come in many forms from pre-formed latex to soft moldable wax. The idea is to push the plug into the external ear canal where it forms a physical barrier to the transmission of sound – much like putting your finger in your ears.
This simple fix is great if you want to dull all the noise around you, such as trying to sleep when you have noisy neighbors. However, this is also a disadvantage as you are isolated from all sounds which make it hard to hold a conversation. If you want to chat, then consider option number two.
2. Custom-fit earplugs
These are bespoke earplugs that come into their own in places where you want to enjoy music or chat, but are serious about protecting your hearing from loud noises.
These are a more expensive option because the audiologist needs to take an impression of your ear canal, plus the products are designed to meet different soundscape needs. For example, custom fit earplugs for use riding a motorbike, deaden the potentially damaging sound of the bike engine and reduce wind noise, but without making the rider deaf to what’s going on around him.
Similarly, professional musicians or those attending gigs are best advised to wear custom fit earplugs as they attenuate loud noises but without deadening the music. The same is also true for shooters or those working with explosives.
3. Noise-cancelling headphones
Perhaps you just wish to live in a quieter world or want to cancel out background noise, such as on an air flight. Noise cancelling headphones vary in the frequencies they handle best, but good ones claim to reduce ambient noise by 15 dB, which could mean the difference between safe listening and hearing damage.
However these are not heavy duty devices so for serious noise consider option number four.
4. Sound-isolating headphones
Also known as ear muffs, ear protectors, or ear defenders, these have a familiar cup-shaped ear plate that fits over each ear, often connected by a band. They contain acoustic foam which interferes with the transmission of sound waves and thus protects your hearing.
There are many different models available to meet all types of need from industrial use to the hobbyist, but for heavy duty hearing protection these are the ones to choose.
Be savvy about protecting your hearing.