Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and How to Prevent It
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a permanent hearing impairment. NIHL may be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Excessive noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to noise exposure related to occupational or leisure activities. Some of the common occupational and leisure activities that can cause NIHL are: truck drivers, construction and factory workers, military, police officers, musicians, and hunters.
Noise-induced hearing loss is the only type of the hearing loss that is preventable. There are many options for preventing NIHL including ear plugs, ear muffs, and custom hearing protection. Doubling up on hearing protection is often recommended. Times when you should wear double hearing protection are at a shooting range or when the noise reduction of the device does not decrease the intensity or volume to a safe listening level. It is important to understand the intensity of the noise that you are exposed to, so the proper hearing protection can be selected.
Non-custom earplugs are typically foam material which tend to be disposable or silicone which may be reusable. Earplugs sold in the U.S. are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have a noise reduction rating (NRR),which is an estimate of the reduction of noise at the ear when protectors are worn properly. However, due to user error the actual noise reduction is often much lower than listed. This is why it is so important to understand the intensity of noise you are exposed to and protect yourself appropriately. If you are unsure, it is better to wear both earplugs and earmuffs.
Musicians, concert goers, individuals who attend sporting events and parades often wear earplugs to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss. However, unlike regular earplugs, musician’s plugs reduce sound levels evenly so that music and speech are clear and natural. Musician’s plugs are available in non-custom or custom options.
If you are worried about insertion error with earplugs or do not like something in your ears, earmuffs are a great option. Most have adjustable headbands to fit your head and are reusable. Earmuffs are great for yard work and household projects where harmful noise is present. Some earmuffs are even compatible with music players and two-way radios.
There are a variety of custom options including custom hunting protection, swim plugs, and noise protection. Custom earplugs provide the best retention and noise reduction when used correctly. Custom earplugs can be more expensive initially but can last years when they are properly cared for. They can be as low as $100 for a pair. Give us a call today to learn more about which hearing protection device is best for you!
Hunter’s Hearing Protection
There are both instant fit and custom electronic hunter’s hearing protection. Unlike regular earplugs, hunter’s hearing protection digitally enhances environmental soft sounds of nature while simultaneously protecting your hearing from the harmful noise of a gunshot. Professional Hearing Services provides a variety of options through Starkey’s SoundGear line or Westone’s DefendEar line.
Professional Hearing Services carries the Elite Series and AC Series by Westone. The custom in-the-ear monitors utilize the skill of custom designed earpieces matched with the latest digital sound quality in a range of price points starting from $300 (prices subject to change). You can select from a variety of features, colors, and patterns to customize your personal devices. Additional information on custom in-the-ear monitors can be found at www.westone.com.