3 Tips for Choosing the Right Hearing Protector
Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities affecting adults. Besides age, exposure to loud noise is one of the greatest risk factors of all. Any sound over 85 decibels in volume poses some risk of permanent hearing loss. The louder the noise or longer your exposure, the worse the impact is likely to be. There is no better approach to noise-induced hearing loss than to prevent it. Your hearing instrument specialist can help you find the hearing protection that can do just that. But how do you choose the best fit for you?
Consider the noise reduction
Ensuring that you’re choosing hearing protection that actually reduces the noise by the degree you need should be your first priority. Just as noise is measured in decibels, hearing protection comes with decibel ratings, too. A pair of earplugs may have a decibel rating of 15 dB, which is how much they reduce the noise by. If you wore them in an environment that produced 95 dB of noise, then it would reduce your overall exposure to 80 dB, which is a safe level. Considering that few work environments go over noise levels of 95 dB, that would make them a good pick for most people.
For louder environments, such as some construction and industrial settings, that level of protection may not be enough. Asking your hearing instrument specialist about more individualized hearing protection may be your best bet. You want to reduce the noise enough to keep it at a safe level, but you don’t want to reduce it too much, especially if it could be a risk at work.
Consider your environment
The noise levels aren’t the only thing you need to consider when choosing hearing protection for the workplace. If you also need to ensure you can still hear speech, then your hearing instrument specialist may be able to help you choose custom molded earplugs, creating a cast of your ear to ensure a better fit. These custom earplugs can come with noise suppression levels that reduce your exposure to unsafe levels, while still allowing you to hear speech. They may even be able to amplify speech.
Hearing protection can also be designed to incorporate other kinds of personal protective equipment, as well. For instance, earmuffs can be attached to hard helmets or goggles. As such, you can make sure you’re fully protected from all risks in the environment. There’s no need to sacrifice one in order to wear the other.
Depending on what you’re doing, your hands might be covered in dirt, grease, or other matter that you wouldn’t want near your ears, for fear of infection or other risks. If that’s the case, you might want to consider earmuffs since you can remove them and put them on without touching your ears. If you need to frequently wear and take off your protection, both earmuffs and custom molded earplugs are a good fit.
Consider how comfortable they are
Protection is the number one priority, but that doesn’t mean that comfort isn’t something worth thinking about. In some cases, you may have to wear your hearing protection for hours at a time. If it isn’t comfortable enough, it can quickly become irritating or uncomfortable. For situations and work environments where you only need protection for a short period of time, disposable foam earplugs may be perfectly suitable.
For environments that require protection for longer, foam earplugs might not be the best choice. They’re not designed to fit your ears like custom molded earplugs are. The latter are designed to be worn much more comfortably for much longer.
Similarly, earmuffs can be comfortable for long stretches of time, too. This is because they’re not worn in the ear but, instead, are pulled down over the ears entirely. They are a little larger and bulkier than the other options, however, so you need to consider whether they’re practical enough for you.
Choose the best hearing protection with the help of your hearing instrument specialist
When you need hearing protection, make sure that you’re choosing with someone who understands all the different options, and which might be best suited to you. You don’t want to spend money only to find out that your choice isn’t the right fit.
Your hearing instrument specialist can offer you the help that you need. Feel free to learn more or to arrange an appointment with Affordable Hearing on 803-749-6017 to reach our Irmo office and on 803-531-6403 to reach our Orangeburg and Santee offices.