You live surrounded by loud noises even if you don’t notice it anymore. Whenever you’re at home and your neighbor is mowing the lawn, when you’re in the middle of traffic to go to work, when you go to a concert, when you work at a construction site or any other noisy workplace, among so many others, you are subjected to these loud noises.
The thing is that you are just not doing enough to protect your hearing. So, today, we wanted to help you learn to see the difference between the different types of hearing protection equipment that exists on the market. One thing is for sure – there’s not the right type of hearing protection for everyone. It depends on your comfort, noise environment, environmental conditions, work conditions, and size of ear canals. So, let’s get started.
A hearing protection device is worn to reduce the volume of the sound that is entering the ear. However, in order for it to work, it needs to fit properly in your ear canal.
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So, here are the 3 types of hearing protection devices that you can choose from:
#1: Ear Muffs:
Ear muffs are the first type of hearing protection device that most people tend to think about. Simply put, the ear cushions will make sure that they seal against your head and directly over your outer ears. They are usually made with a plastic envelope that is smooth and is filled with some fluid material like foam. One of the things that many people tend to complain about ear muffs is the fact that they need periodic maintenance because the cushions tend to become brittle or stiff. Most ear muffs just come in one size and they tend to offer a great protection. However, they can turn out to be a bit uncomfortable when you need to wear them in hot work areas or when you need to perform a vigorous work activity.
In terms of advantages, ear muffs are very easy to fit properly and they are usually designed to fit most people. This means that it will require you fewer tie to learn how to wear them the right way. One of the main advantages of ear muffs is the fact that they are big. This makes it possible that they can be easily visible and monitored as well as you won’t lose them as easily.
In what concerns with the disadvantages, ear muffs can become very uncomfortable in hot environments. Plus, they can be cumbersome and even restrict some head motion. One of the things that you need to consider when you’re thinking about getting ear muffs for you is that beards, hair, glasses, sideburns, and hats can alter the protection they offer. The last disadvantage of ear muffs is concerned with protection less in low-frequency noise environment.
You can find two different types of earplugs: foam earplugs and molded or pre-molded earplugs.
– Foam Earplugs:
In what concerns foam earplugs, they tend to be very comfortable, even if you need to wear them for a long period of time. They are available in standard sizes and most of them are actually reusable up until the point where they start to get wax or dirt on them. Since you just can’t wash them, you’ll need to replace hem at any given time. Traditionally, the foam earplugs have between 1/4 and 1/2 inches and you’ll need to insert and hold them on your ear canal for about 30 to 40 seconds. This will allow them to expand and fill your ear canal in order to be able to block the sound. When you’re wearing them, you’ll notice how the sound of your voice should be hollow or muffled, just like when you’re in a tunnel or like an echo.
In terms of advantages, foam earplugs are small and usually very inexpensive. They are portable and tend to be more comfortable than others. Plus, you won’t have any problems wearing them even if you have long hair or wear glasses. But foam earplugs also have disadvantages. They can be hard to fit especially if you have a small ear canal and since they are reusable, they will attract dirt that can move on into your canal.
Foam earplugs are not suitable for everyone. Simply put, their level of protection can vary depending on your canal anatomy, insertion method, and hair or wax that you have in the canal.
– Molded & Pre-Molded Earplugs:
This type of earplugs are flexible and soft and are usually made of silicone, plastic or rubber. They can come in different styles and most of the times there’s not one size fits all. Molded and pre-molded earplugs tend to have flanges that are responsible for the seal against the canal wall. This type of earplugs are also reusable and you only need to wash them with water and soap. They maintain both their size and flexibility.
In terms of advantages, they usually stem for clean insertion and they come in different sizes to make sure they are the right fit. Most brands usually offer you a convenient carrying case and they are washable, so you can reuse them.
One of the main disadvantages of this type of earplug is that you can actually need a different size for each one of your ears. Plus, there are usually two main critics that are made to this hearing protection device: you need to insert and remove with twisting or rotation and you can’t pull them straight out upon removal.
Headphones are very similar with ear muffs. In fact, many people often think they are just the same. However, they have one main difference. While ear muffs simply protect your hearing, the headphones, besides protecting your hearing in the exact same way ear muffs do, they also allow you to listen to music while you’re wearing them. Some years ago, you only had wired headphones that you needed to plug into your music player. However, most headphones today already include wireless technology and allow you to listen to the radio as well if you want. Plus, another advantage of choosing headphones instead of ear muffs is that they usually are available in multiple colors.