There are many different ways you can be exposed to loud noises that can damage your ears. From hobbies to your work environment, your ears can take a beating. Even though some noise can’t be avoided, it is essential to protect your hearing as much as possible.

Not protecting your hearing can damage the delicate inner workings of your ear and cause irreparable harm. It can also lead to tinnitus and difficulty in understanding conversations if there is background noise. Luckily, some forms of hearing loss can be prevented if the proper hearing protection is used.

Knowing what kind of hearing protection to use can be tricky, and the best course of action is to talk to your hearing health professional about your specific lifestyle, health risks, and needs. It can be helpful to have some general information about the best way to choose hearing protection before your appointment.

Amount of noise reduction needed

It is important to know when you need to wear hearing protection and how much noise reduction you need. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sets guidelines for when hearing protection is needed. They recommend that you wear proper hearing protection when you are around sound levels above 70dB. You can use a sound measuring app to check noise levels if you are unsure.

Every hearing protector will be labeled with a noise reduction rating (NRR). You only get the labeled protection if it fits correctly, so make sure you follow all instructions and wear the size that fits you.

Other factors

Other than noise levels, there are some other factors that you should consider when choosing the right hearing protection. If you are in a situation where you need to wear eye protection or helmets, then some hearing protection may not work as well for you. This can also apply if you regularly wear eyeglasses, sunglasses, or hats. These things can interfere with the fit of earmuffs, so you may want to opt for earplugs. If your hands are getting dirty often, you probably will not want to use foam earplugs that need to be rolled between the fingers to ensure a proper fit.

You should also think about the kinds of sounds that will be present. If the noise is intermittent, then you may want to use earmuffs or pre-formed earplugs that can be removed and replaced frequently. Earplugs attached to a cord or band are helpful if you don’t have pockets.

There are flat attenuation earplugs or earmuffs that are ideal for musicians because they preserve sound fidelity. There are also level-dependent hearing protectors that will allow sound to pass when it is quiet and not when it gets loud. This can be helpful for people at target practice who need to communicate frequently in between short bursts of noise.

Personal preference

Your personal preferences are also important. You want your hearing protection to be comfortable and convenient for your lifestyle. Hearing protection only works if you wear it correctly and consistently; so it is important that you find a style that you will actually use instead of something that won’t get utilized as often as necessary.