Protect your hearing
Although hearing loss is often associated with age, it can be a result of many different factors, such as exposure to loud noises, injury, certain medical conditions, medications and your family history. The cause can be difficult to distinguish, as older people often have a combination of different types of hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Sound intensity is measured in decibels. Noises that exceed 85 decibels are considered unsafe and should be avoided, as excessive noise exposure can permanently damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear.
Noise-induced hearing loss can result from a one-time exposure to a very loud sound (such as an explosion) or over an extended period of time. There are different types of noise-induced hearing loss:
- Occupational noise exposure
People who work in noisy environments such as factories or with power tools are more at risk of hearing loss. Wearing ear protection can reduce the risk.
This refers to hearing loss as a result of repeated noise exposure that is not related to occupation, such as traffic noise. You can reduce your risk by moving away from the source where possible. Watching television or listening to music through headphones at high volume can also cause hearing loss; turning the volume down and reducing your listening time can lessen the risk.
The world around us is incredibly noisy. It is common to encounter noises over 100dB in everyday life, such as industrial equipment, jet engines and live music at a concert. If you find yourself in a dangerously noisy environment, you can help protect your hearing by wearing a set of earplugs to reduce your exposure. There are several different types of ear protection available to suit a variety of needs.
Foam Ear Plugs
Foam ear plugs are inexpensive and usually come in a ‘one size fits all’ design. They are made of compressed foam that expands in the ear canal to provide sound insulation. However, foam earplugs reduce all external noise including speech and music, so they are not ideal for social situations or concerts.
Generic Fit Ear Plugs
ER20 generic fit earplugs are designed to attenuate (reduce) sounds evenly across the audio band, which reduces background noise whilst maintaining the frequencies required for understanding speech and listening to music. They are not intended to protect you against very high levels of noise.
Custom Moulded Ear Plugs
Custom moulded ER15 earplugs are made to work perfectly with your ears and have filters that can be tuned, so the amount and type of noise reduction delivered is no more or less than needed. They reduce all sounds equally, making them popular with airport staff and construction workers that need to protect their hearing from loud noises and communicate at the same time.
These earplugs are made of acrylic or soft silicone that can fit the ear and the ear canal tightly and provide comfort to the wearer. An impression of the ear is required to ensure a perfect fit.
Hearing Protection for Musicians
In-ear monitors (IEMs) are devices similar to headphones that are worn by musicians, audio engineers and audiophiles. They send an audio signal from a transmitter/receiver system to earplugs that are moulded to the shape of the ear canal.
This allows you to hear a mix of vocals and instrumentation whilst reducing unwanted external noise, which ensures a precise and controlled sound when performing or listening to music and helps to protect your hearing.
High-Fidelity (Hi-Fi) ear plugs are also used by musicians to protect against harmful levels of noise. They are designed to evenly reduce sound without distorting it, and many musicians say they can hear their own instruments or voices better when wearing them.
Both IEMs and Hi-Fi ear plugs are usually custom made out of medical grade silicone, to ensure comfort for the wearer and to help provide a consistent seal around the ear canal, even when the jaw is in use.
High Noise Filtering Solutions
High noise situations where there is an emphasis on higher pitch frequencies require special hearing protection that allows the wearer to block out loud noises whilst maintaining situation awareness.
PRO-20 earplugs provide increased attenuation at high pitch frequencies. They are popular with motorcycle riders, as they effectively block out loud wind and engine noises but still allow them to communicate when the motorcycle is stationary.
PRO-27 ear plugs can provide protection in dangerously loud environments where audible speech is still a requirement, such as working close to industrial equipment. They allow you to hear your own voice naturally when speaking and can increase your safe exposure time by up to 9 times.