Rules of Thumb for Everyday Hearing Protection
Noise should always be reduced at its source. But while we work to change people’s minds and our by-laws about noise, there are some ways we can protect ourselves as we go about our everyday lives.
Hearing protection is a trade-off between personal comfort and the best possible fit. If we completely stopped up our ears with a very dense acoustic material, we would certainly have the best noise reduction, but the pressure created inside our ear canals would be unbearable.
There are two main types of hearing protection: ear muffs and ear plugs. Our focus here will be on ear plugs because they are the cheapest, most accessible and appropriate for everyday wear.
The success of any ear plug is not the brand name you buy, but how you use the ear plugs. The more experience you have on how to fit and use your ear plugs, the greater the protection. Almost any product on the market for noise reduction will be adequate if you know how to use it.
There are three different kinds of ear plugs: 10) universal 20) pre-moulded and 30) custom moulded.
1. Universal (one-size-fits-all) ear plugs are usually made of foam or sponge. With clean hands, roll and compress each plug between thumb and forefinger before inserting firmly, and as far as possible, into the ear canal. Give the ear plug a few seconds to expand fully inside the ear canal, to assume the shape of the ear canal itself. Universal ear plugs are reusable so don’t throw them out after just one use. Wash them in mild soap and water and keep using them until they lose their sponginess or begin to harden. You can find these ear plugs and other types of hearing protection by clicking here.
2. Pre-moulded ear plugs are made of rubber or plastic (to hold the shape better) and therefore less flexible than the universal type. They come in sizes of extra-small, small, medium, large and extra large. If you’re a woman you should know that most pre-moulded ear plugs on the market today are still made for men. If you think you are a "medium" you might want to drop down a size.
3. Custom moulded ear plugs are the most complicated and costly to make and use of the ear plugs. It requires a visit to an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser where a silicone impression is made for each ear. Custom moulded ear plugs cost around $75.00-100.00