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Hearing & Balance Doctors is currently open. We are taking special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including offering a curbside service for hearing aids. Please call 435-688-8991 for more information. Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031
Hearing & Balance Doctors is currently open. We are taking special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including offering a curbside service for hearing aids. Please call 435-688-8991 for more information. Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031

Not All Hearing Protection is Created Equal: What to Use & When

Not All Hearing Protection is Created Equal - What to Use & When
By now, it is hopefully common knowledge that hearing protection is essential to help prevent sensorineural hearing loss. The problem is, not everyone knows that now hearing protection is created equal.

To be fair, using some amount of hearing protection is better than none. However, you can better protect yourself from hearing loss by ensuring that you have the right hearing protection when you need it. If you aren’t sure what your options are, your local doctors of audiology are here to help.

Foam Earplugs: Comfortable And Convenient

Foam Earplugs
When most people think of hearing protection, they think of foam earplugs first. These little earplugs are disposable and generally come in a few sizes. Most people find foam earplugs comfortable and cheap, but they aren’t meant for all activities.

For simple things, such as using public transportation, keeping out water, and attending noisy events where there are fireworks lit, using foam earplugs is a good option. However, they do not offer as much hearing protection as you will need for things like concerts, hunting, and other loud activities.

Pros of foam earplugs:

  • Very cheap for a pack of earplugs
  • Disposable
  • Small and easily portable
  • Doesn’t get in the way of glasses, hats, or hair
  • Comfortable for most users

Cons of foam earplugs:

  • Loose foam earplugs can transfer dirt or bacteria to ear
  • Those with smaller ear canals may find uncomfortable
  • Takes practice to fit correctly
  • Offers the lowest level of hearing protection

Molded Earplugs: Reusable And Portable

Molded Earplugs
Molded earplugs can come in several different materials, such as plastic, silicone, and rubber, and generally have a stem that is easy to reach for removal. Sometimes, molded earplugs have a connecting cord to help you keep them secure when you take them out. The tiered flange on molded earplugs is designed to help seal off your ear canal.

The protection offered by molded earplugs is on par with foam earplugs, though molded earplugs may offer slightly more protection. However, the main advantage is that these earplugs are reusable.

Pros of molded earplugs:

  • Often still cheap
  • Reusable
  • Washable
  • Variety of sizes available
  • Doesn’t get in the way of glasses, hats, or hair
  • Portable

Cons of molded earplugs:

  • Need to be twisted loose, do not pull out
  • Each ear may need a different size
  • Check for silicone allergy before using silicone molded earplugs
  • Offers next level of hearing protection

Earmuffs: Greater Protection

Earmuffs
As a form of over the ear protection, earmuffs protect both your sensitive ear canals as well as the sound transmitting bones around your ears. Thanks to the cushion on the earmuffs, your ears can be sealed comfortably and protected.

Earmuffs are excellent hearing protection for a range of loud noise activities since it provides far more protection. If you are going to a loud concert, shooting range, doing home reconstruction, or other high-impact sound activities, earmuffs can be a great choice. However, the main downside is that earmuffs can block out too much sound.

Pros of earmuffs:

  • Offers one of the highest levels of hearing protection
  • Portable
  • Easy to show hearing protection compliance
  • Fits most users easily

Cons of earmuffs:

  • Can get in the way of hats and glasses
  • More expensive than earplugs
  • Can get hot and uncomfortable to wear
  • May block out sounds you want to hear

Electronic Earmuffs: Highest Protection And Adjustable

Electronic Earmuffs
For the highest level of hearing protection, electronic earmuffs are the best available. They have all the benefits of regular earmuffs, with an added perk—you can adjust what sounds are let through. Rather than having both soft and sharp, loud sounds blocked out, electronic earmuffs can be adjusted to allow for softer sounds to be filtered through.

This feature is especially helpful for hunters who need the increased situational awareness. It can also be helpful to contractors so that communication between coworkers can still happen without needing to remove necessary protection.

Pros of electronic earmuffs:

  • Offers the highest levels of hearing protection
  • Can adjust sound penetration to allow for softer sounds
  • Portable
  • Easy to show hearing protection compliance
  • Fits most users easily

Cons of electronic earmuffs:

  • Can get in the way of hats and glasses
  • Most expensive hearing protection option
  • Can get hot and uncomfortable to wear
  • May restrict head movement

Work With Hearing & Balance Doctors For Custom Hearing Protection
There is also custom hearing protection that is available depending on your needs. For instance, the hearing protection needs of a musician will be different from a competitive swimmer. Our audiologists can work with you to determine what type of custom hearing protection is best for you.

If you are interested in custom hearing protection, or need advice on what hearing protection you might need for your future activities, feel free to contact us to consult with our audiologists.

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