Every day you are exposed to noise, whether it be the sound of your cellphone ringing, dog barking, or in conversation with family members. While not all noise can damage your hearing, even short-term exposure to high levels of noise can result in damaging effects on your hearing. To reduce your risk of hearing loss, it’s advised that you take caution when engaging with loud noises that exceed the limit of what is recommended by health professionals.
Why It’s Important to Protect Your Hearing
Oftentimes, people don’t experience symptoms of impaired hearing, such as pain or ringing in the ears until damage has already occurred. Taking preemptive measures to protect your hearing from harsh noise is critical to keep your ears free from permanent hearing damage.
When Should You Wear Hearing Protection?
Damage to your hearing can occur when you least expect it. If you are exposed to harsh sounds for an extended period, you should consider investing in preventive measures to reduce the harm caused to your hearing. Protection should always be worn when exposed to high levels of sound, whether it be from a concert or a lawnmower, is expected.
How loud is too loud?
Sound is measured using units called decibels (dB). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noise over 70 dB can cause hearing impairment if exposed for a prolonged period of time, and immediate damage occurs after exposure to noise above 120 dB.
How can I protect my hearing while at work?
If you work in a noisy environment such as a construction site or a radio station, you may frequently find yourself exposed to loud noises of power tools and music for an extended period of time. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the sound of general industry, construction, and manufacturing workplaces to be below 85 dB, prolonged exposure to such harsh sounds can cause irreversible damage if cautions are not properly taken. Therefore, it’s critical that employees regularly working with loud noise utilize noise-reducing devices such as earplugs to prevent impairment.
Things to Consider When Selecting Hearing Protection
When choosing which ear protection device best suits your situation, it’s important to remain mindful of a few factors that go into effective noise protection. The following aspects should be considered when choosing the proper hearing protection.
Hearing protection may need to be worn for a long time, so it’s important that your choice of protection is comfortable. Whether you opt for an over-the-ear device or in-ear plugs, your comfort level should be factored into your decision.
Ease of use
In certain instances, you may be around inconsistent loud noise. Having the appropriate hearing protection that can be easily taken on and off can help ease disruption.
If you’re in a situation where you’re around hazardous noise but need to engage in frequent communication, you’ll need to choose hearing protection that will block background noise while still allowing speech frequencies to pass.
Choose the Hearing Protection That’s Right for You
When determining the hearing protection that best fits your circumstance, the first step is to become familiar with all of your options. A variety of protection devices exist to combat the effects of exposure to damaging sounds, with the most common devices featured below.
Commonly regarded as a noise enhancer, some hearing aids also offer protection against some noise. Noise-canceling hearing aids reduce background noise while making certain sounds louder, like conversations with a neighbor. Styles of hearing aids differ, with some worn in the ear, over the ear, and completely within the ear canal. However, it’s important to note that reduction of background noise is different from the reduction of hazardous noise. In most cases, it would be advisable to remove hearing aids or at least turn them off and wear hearing protection devices in hazardous noise situations.
Expandable foam plugs
As the most popular type of hearing protection, expandable foam plugs are designed to expand and conform to match the shape of a person’s ear canal. These plugs can be rolled into a smooth cylinder small enough to fit easily into the ear canal.
Pre-molded, reusable plugs
As a reusable method for hearing protection, pre-molded earplugs do not require manual rolling to fit inside of your ear. These plugs are typically manufactured in various sizes for small, medium, and large ear canals.
Convenient for situations where hearing protection needs to be easily taken on and off, canal caps essentially function as earplugs attached to a plastic or metal band. Though ideal for instances where hazardous noise is frequent, this type of hearing protection is not designed for long-term use.
Made with sound-attenuating material, earmuffs are soft ear cushions that cover the outer ear completely. These devices are designed to fit most people and can be used with earplugs to further block out hazardous noise.
Contact Associated Hearing Professionals for More About Hearing Protection
The experts at Associated Hearing Professionals proudly serve Metro St. Louis. Using our combined 70 years of experience, we can help you find effective hearing protection. Schedule an appointment with our hearing professionals today to stay protected against loud noise.