How to Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Around 30% of people's hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise, meaning that millions of people could be prevented from ever having hearing loss if they were to follow a few basic guidelines.
First of all, it is necessary to understand what is meant by the term ‘too loud’. Any noise from 85 dB up can cause hearing loss. To put this figure into perspective, a lawn mower is between 85 and 90 dB. The louder the noise it, the more quickly the hearing loss will occur. So follow these steps to protect your hearing.

Protection from hearing loss

  • Take note of how long you have been exposed to loud noise and try and have a break of 15 minutes or so to give your ears a rest.
  • Avoid noisy situations. If you have to raise your voice to be heard then it is likely you are in a situation that is hazardous for your hearing.
  • If you can’t avoid a noisy situation, protect your hearing with either foam ear plugs or head phones.
  • If you regularly attend concerts then it may be worth investing in some custom fit musician ear plugs. Always avoid standing directly in front of speakers or amplifiers.
  • Have your hearing tested every two years particularly if you have noticed a change in your hearing. Your clinician will be able to give you further advice about protecting your hearing.

There is a variety of different ways to protect your ears.
These methods are basically divided into two different types: ear protection that closes off the auditory canal, which includes various types of ear plugs, ear plugs with frames, wadding and ear molds, and ear protection that covers the ear. This type of protection is not inserted into the ear, but sits on the ear in the same way as headphones do. The many different models provide appropriate protection for any use and situation.

Expanding Foam Ear Plugs

Advantages

  • easy to insert and remove
  • economical
  • no cleaning necessary
  • also available with cords
  • can be worn with other protective gear, e.g. helmets

Disadvantages

  • can cause itching in the ear canal

Product life

One day to one week

Pre-shaped Ear Plugs

Advantages

  • intended for repeated use
  • can be inserted without prior shaping
  • available for different ear canal dimensions, and with flanges of
    different softness levels
  • economical

Disadvantages

  • can cause an unpleasant sensation of pressure in the ear canal

Product life

One week to several months


Wadding

Ear protection wadding is made of special mineral fibers covered with a thin film. The film prevents any fiber residue being left in the ear. Pressure between the ear canal and the outside can be equalized, as the wadding does not seal the ear hermetically.
This gives greater comfort for the wearer. Ear protection wadding is very economical.

Product life

Single use only


Custom Ear Molds

Here, an individual mold is made for each ear canal. High-quality fitting and a good, close fit give especially high levels of comfort. Special holes allow optional filters to be inserted and replaced, which means that the ear plugs can be modified to suit the required or mandatory level of sound insulation.

Ear molds are particularly suitable for musicians, and are not permitted in workplaces where noise levels reach hazardous levels of more than 95 dB.

Product life

Up to 5 years (with regular inspections)


Ear Plugs with Frames

Ear plugs with frames consist of ready-shaped plugs attached to a frame. In many types the frame can be worn at the back of the neck, on the head or under the chin. Ear plugs with frames are particularly suited where the ear protection has to be frequently removed and replaced.

If they are not worn correctly, the minimum sound insulation level is not reached, so ear plugs with frames should not be used at noise levels above 90 dB. Sounds transmitted into the ear via the frame – by contact with the hands, for example – can sometimes cause an unpleasant sensation.

Product life

1 month to 1 year


Capsule Ear Protection

When ear protection that fits inside the ear cannot be worn because the ear canal is too narrow or too wide, ear protection capsules are recommended. These "headphones" are very convenient, even in situations when protection has to be frequently removed and replaced because the noise occurs repeatedly but is only of short duration.
Versions that include hygiene packs or electronics – such as communication devices or integral radio – can be used in the widest variety of applications.

Capsule ear protectors make it more difficult to locate the sources of sound, so for safety they should not be used in situations when good directional hearing is needed.

Product life

3-4 years of regular use