Noise-induced hearing loss is a common occupational hazard. Protecting one’s hearing from loud noises on the job site can be achieved using earplugs to block out excess noise, but not all of them are created equal. Here we will discuss which types of earplugs work best and why they should be used for maximum protection.
What are earplugs made of?
Earplugs come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be custom-made or pre-made from a variety of materials, such as foam, silicone rubber, wax, cotton wool, or polyurethane foam.
What is the best type of earplug?
There is no one type of earplug that protects hearing the best; instead, it depends on what you are looking to protect your hearing from. For example, if you are looking to block out excess noise while in a noisy environment such as an airport or factory, then foam earplugs work best and can also be custom-made to fit the contours of one’s ears for maximal protection.
Suppose you are looking to protect your hearing in a quieter environment (such as watching TV). In that case, silicone earplugs work best and can be easily inserted into the ears without much discomfort, thanks to their malleable qualities. Regardless of the type of earplug, all types should only be used for one-time use before being discarded.
Best Hearing Protection for Shooting and Hunting
Shooting and hunting can be quite an exhilarating experience for many. However, the noise from guns can permanently damage your hearing if precautions are not taken to protect it. For this reason, more and more people have started using earplugs when shooting or hunting to keep their ears safe and sound.
One type of earplug that works well at protecting one from this permanent hearing damage is the cone earplug. Cone earplugs work well because they are very malleable and able to fit into one’s outer ear with ease without much discomfort, thanks to their soft rubber-like characteristics.
Cone earplugs can be shaped appropriately for your ears by rolling them between your fingers until you find a shape that is most comfortable for you. Cone earplugs are an inexpensive way to protect your hearing when shooting or hunting, and they can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. A disadvantage of cone earplugs is that they do not block all noise as some other types of plugs may do, so it is important to wear them in conjunction with a high-quality muffler if one is shooting.
Why You Should Wear Earplugs When Working Around Heavy Machinery
It is important to wear earplugs when working around heavy machinery, such as large trucks or construction equipment. The noise level of these machines could lead to hearing impairment in the future if they are not worn with some form of protection now.
Types of Industrial Ear Plugs
Here are the types of earplugs used when working around heavy machinery:
- Cone earplugs: These are best for high-noise environments because they block the majority of sound and can also be used when shooting or hunting.
- Insertable hearing protection: Plugs are inserted into your ears to guarantee a comfortable fit that will provide maximum reduction in volume and excellent attenuation of harmful levels of wind noise. This type of earplug is recommended for machinery, such as power tools.
- Earmuffs: These are the best option to block out sound in environments with high levels of noise since they will cover your ears entirely and provide a tight seal while still allowing you to hear conversations that happen around you. Earmuffs are also recommended when working near loud machines or equipment because these are not inserted into your ear canal and do not require you to remove them when working near a loud machine.
- Plugged ears: These are arguably the worst type of hearing protection since they only seal off one side of your ear, allowing sound from that side to enter through the open space in between both plugs. This is why this should be used last resort because it will not provide the best protection from noise.
- Silicone earplugs: These are the second-best type of hearing protection because they offer a lower level of sound reduction than foam plugs but can still block out enough noise to make it safer for your ears and won’t cause plugged ears as wax or cotton do. These types of earplugs should be used in dry and hot weather because they can make your ears sweat.
- Foam earplugs: These are the best type of hearing protection when it comes to blocking out noise, but they will not be comfortable for long periods of time if you have sensitive skin or allergies because these types of plugs seal off both sides of your ear canal.
- Wax earplugs: These are the best type of hearing protection when it comes to blocking out noise, but they can make your ears sweat and cause plugged ears. They should not be used in dry or hot weather since this will only worsen these problems.
- Cotton earplugs: These should be a last resort because they won’t provide the best hearing protection. They can make your ears sweat cause plugged ears, and the sound quality is poor. If you are someone who needs hearing protection but does not want to sacrifice comfort for blocking out noise, then use foam earplugs in dry or hot weather while using cotton plugs when it’s cold outside.
Tips on How to Protect Yourself from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is the worst thing someone can ever experience because it means you are losing your hearing and will never get it back. The good news is that there are ways to prevent this from happening.
First, make sure not to wear headphones when outside or during a storm. It can be distressing for someone with noise-induced hearing loss because the sound quality of their environment changes dramatically at loud volumes. Second, avoid blasting music or turning the volume all the way up. The louder you turn it, the more likely your ears will be sensitive to noise levels, and this can lead to hearing loss in some cases. If you are going to a show, then wear earplugs because they don’t distort sound quality like headphones do.
And finally, if someone in your family has hearing loss, then it’s a good idea to have them tested for tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition that causes people to hear ringing or buzzing sounds in their ears and can be caused by noise exposure as well.
The earplugs with the best protection are ones made of foam because they block out more noise. Earplugs made out of silicone will also block out sound, but not as well as foam earplugs. They only offer protection up to 31 dB, which is a lot less than the foam earplugs, which offer protection up to 36 dB.
The American Academy of Audiology recommends using hearing protection in any noisy environment with 85 decibels or more (which is about as loud as a chainsaw). Hearing is something people can’t get back, so it’s essential to take care of your ears.