Using a hearing protection device will help to decrease the level of intensity for sound traveling to the eardrum. There are two different forms: earmuffs and earplugs.
Earplugs – These are small inserts that go into the outside ear canal. In order to be effective, they need to block the ear canal completely with a tight seal. There are many sizes and shapes that you can choose from to fit inside of your ear canal. Some of them are custom-made to fit into your individual ear. People who have issues keeping the earplugs in their ears can have them fitted to a headband.
Earmuffs – The earmuffs are made to fit over the entire ear to help form a seal that blocks air from coming in. An adjustable band works to hold them in place. They need to be fitted snugly to make sure the ear canal is blocked off.
When your earplugs or earmuffs are properly fitted into place they help to cut the level of sound by 15 to 30 decibels. Between the two different types of protection devices, they both have been proven to work just as well at reducing sound.
However, earplugs can give you better hearing protection for lower frequency noises, while earmuffs are better at protecting against any high frequency noises, such as an airplane taking off. For the sounds that are higher frequencies, try to think about the treble keys on a piano. Whereas, lower frequency sounds are more along the lines of the bass keys on the piano.
Using earplugs and earmuffs at the same time help to eliminate an additional ten decibels more than just using one of the hearing protection methods by themselves. Whenever you are in a situation that involves noise levels exceeding 105 decibels, you should consider the importance of using two forms of protection. It is imperative to understand that simply placing a cotton ball or tissue paper inside of the ear canal is only going to reduce the noise levels by seven decibels.
Excessive amounts of noise exposure could be the result of a live concert, as well as other venues where there are amplification devices being used. Damage sustained from music is just as permanent as many of the other means out there. Recently, they developed a new type of earplugs for musicians and professional engineers to help handle any difficult noise situations. They are designed to eliminate the plugged ear effect and help maintain even sound reduction when faced with varying frequencies.
Otherwise, if the ear is plugged, it will end up making someone's voice sound deeper and fuller of bass, not to mention louder. Try this yourself by blocking your ears with your fingers and then speaking. You will end up with the plugged ear effect.
Dr. Hunsaker has lived in the Las Vegas area since 2008. He is a graduate of Idaho State University and has had extensive training in the care and management of patients with hearing and balance disorders. He currently holds the Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology (CCC-A) from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). For up-to-date hearing aid information visit our blog.