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Know the Facts About Hearing Protection

Shelby Platia, AuD


Headshot of CHC audiologist Shelby Platia of NYC
CHC Audiologist Shelby Platia

In honor of the 29th Annual International Noise Awareness Day (April 24), I'd like to take a look at hearing protection and consider what you need to know to make informed decisions about protecting your hearing from noise.


But first, a few facts about noise and hearing.


Why Hearing Protection Matters


Exposure to noise is the leading cause of hearing loss in the U.S. It's estimated that 40 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).


NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to a sudden, intense sound (120 dB or louder) such as a firecracker or explosion, or from extended exposure to sounds greater than 70 dB, such as machinery, music, or a dental drill. 


The good news is that your risk of noise-induced hearing loss can be reduced with proper hearing protection.


Hearing Protection Overview


There are a variety of ways you can protect your hearing from noise. Here, I'll be

focusing on earplugs, a product I'm pleased to report is growing in popularity and one that you can easily carry and pop in whenever noise becomes an issue.


In choosing earplugs, it's important to consider your hearing protection needs. Do you want them for leisure activities like the occasional concert? Do you work with machinery, use firearms while hunting, or work in a concert venue?


Audience with raised arms at a rock concert

For the purpose of this analysis, we'll consider products designed for leisure activities like attending a rock concert or a Monster Truck Rally. In these instances, you're seeking a noise reduction (attenuation) of 15-30 dB to ensure safe listing levels.


Key terms to know:


  • NRR - Noise Reduction Rating is the average amount of sound reduction hearing protection provides based on the filter used. Look for the NRR on the packaging and choose a product with a noise reduction level that meets your hearing protection needs.

  • Filter – An earplug filter reduces the intensity of sound entering the ear canal. Depending on the NRR, the filter may decrease the volume of noise while still allowing speech and other important sounds to be heard.  

Types of Earplugs


  1. Universal Earplugs


Universal earplugs are mass-produced devices designed to fit a wide range of ear shapes and sizes. Readily available online and in stores, they offer a one-size-fits-most solution for reducing noise exposure.


A man inserting a simple foam earplug into his ear

The least expensive of the universal plugs are the disposable foam plugs simply inserted into the ear canal. They can be purchased individually for $1-2 a pair or about $45 for a box of 100. These earplugs are one size and have no additional features. They have an NRR rating that does block out dangerous levels of sound but do not have any additional features such as filters.


There are a variety of more expensive universal plugs ranging from about $30 to $65. Some, like Eargasm and Loop, have features that can be very helpful to users. For example, some come with a variety of sizes of tips for a better fit. Music aficionados who are using universal earplugs at stadium concerts will appreciate the availability of different filters which could potentially provide a better sound quality and listening experience.


Custom hearing protection by Phonak

2. Custom Earplugs


Custom hearing protection requires that a mold of your ears be made by an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist. These molds are then connected to noise-reduction plugs that come with a variety of NRR filter options to meet whatever hearing protection needs you might have.


Custom hearing protection is generally the most comfortable option and will lasts a long time. But it's also the most expensive option, in the range of $200-$350.


3. Children's Hearing Protection


Always remember that it is important not only to protect your hearing but that of children as well. While not technically an earplug, children's EarMuffs are available in all sizes to protect little ears from damage too!


Which Option is Best for You?


The product that's right for you will be a matter of cost, fit and comfort, as well as the quality of sound that you're experiencing. It’s important to keep in mind that custom hearing protection will always have greater comfort and ease of use since they are tailored to your ears.  


The use of universal hearing protection may take some trial and error to find the product that works and feels the best for you and your hearing protection needs.  The fit you experience based on your individual ears could vary significantly from one universal product to another.  So, be patient during this process and stay committed to hearing protection - it is so worth it in the long run!


Always remember that some hearing protection is better than no hearing protection.


Contact Us


Should you have questions about custom or universal hearing protection, please contact me at info@chchearing.org and I will be happy to address your questions.


If you're interested in making an appointment at CHC for custom hearing protection, please submit our appointment request form or call us in NY at 917-305-7766 or in Florida at 954-601-1930.


Wishing all of you the best on International Noise Awareness Day!



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127 views1 comment

1 Kommentar


Ann Green
Ann Green
7 days ago

It is very important to protect your hearing from the effects of noise and daily activities that damage your hearing. Through the article, I have more useful knowledge for practical application. Happy Wheels

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