An estimated 20% of Americans are living with hearing loss. If you want to lower your chances of developing this condition, as well as prevent existing problems from getting any worse, choosing the right hearing protection is essential. Leaving your ears in a vulnerable position puts you at a greater risk for conditions like noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
Protecting your ears will help you prevent sudden hearing loss caused by exposure to huge sounds. Furthermore, it’ll reduce the threat of gradual hearing loss that can be attributed to ongoing noise exposure from your work or home environments.
Here are three simple tips to ensure that you gain the best protection:
Step one: Think about your lifestyle and situation
No two people have identical hearing profiles. Likewise, we all have unique circumstances and situations at the home and office. Whether you work in a noisy environment or enjoy loud hobbies like concerts or shooting, your protection needs will differ from another person’s.
When considering various sounds and their potential dangers, it is crucial to consider the decibel levels. The following information should provide some clear insight into the dB levels that you are likely to encounter:
- 70-90 dB is the rate often produced by heavy machinery, electric motors, garbage disposal, construction and traffic.
- 100-120 dB is the rate often produced by power saws, motorcycles, rock music experiences and jackhammers.
- 140+ dB is the rate often produced by jet engines, gunshots and other extremely loud products in the aviation, transport and emergency-service sectors.
When selecting hearing protection, it’s important to not only consider the situations that you may encounter, it’s also vital to note the frequency you are in those environments. Exposure to a short, loud burst can be equally as damaging as constant exposure to something slightly lower, but still noisy. It’s also vital to consider any hearing loss you may have. Those with severe or profound hearing loss will have different needs than those with mild to moderate loss.
Step two: Understand the types of available protection
Now that you are familiar with what factors you’ll need to consider from your ear protection, you will also want to understand the different styles available. These styles all have their own benefits depending on the amount of protection you need and fit you are looking for.
- Earplugs: You have a couple of different options when it comes to earplugs, disposable and custom. While disposable options are available and may seem more cost-effective, they can actually cost you more in the long run if you have to continually buy them. Custom earplugs are a better option because they’re reusable, more effective at blocking out noise and more comfortable to wear.
- Earmuffs: Earmuffs are worn externally over the ears and can be connected to helmets or other items. Earmuffs cover the ears completely to drown out external sounds and are available in various materials, colors and sizes. Advanced options can include Bluetooth speakers so that you can continue to speak with people on the job site.
- Otoplastics: Often used by musicians and motorcyclists, among others, otoplastics are a long-term, custom solution for specialized needs. They muffle sounds to provide effective ear defense, while the personalized elements ensure that you can still hear what you need to.
Step three: Speak to an audiologist
While it can be beneficial to conduct your own hearing protection research, it’s essential to discuss your options with an audiologist. In addition to the testing and treatment of hearing loss, audiologists are also experts at preventing the condition and protecting against it. They will factor in your personal, physical and environmental needs to recommend the most suitable and effective option.
In addition to providing valuable advice on the best types and forms of ear protection, they can instruct you on the proper care and maintenance of protective products. Each form of protection may require different steps to ensure it remains in optimal shape, whether it’s how to store your earmuffs or how frequently to clean your custom earplugs. This may also include a demonstration on how to insert and remove your devices, as well as any signs you may want to look out for that indicate the protection is not working as it should.
Book your audiology appointment today
If you’re interested in learning more about your options for hearing protection, or simply want to have your hearing tested because you’ve been exposed to loud noise, give Allison Audiology & Hearing Aid Center, P.C. a call today.
Contact Lake Jackson at 979-292-8501 or Houston at 13-827-1767.