October is National Protect Your Hearing Month! Noise-induced hearing loss can occur from a single loud event or from cumulative noise exposure over a lifetime. Some loud sounds can be obvious, such as rock concerts, sporting events, or noise from a jet engine. However, even everyday objects such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers can create enough noise exposure to contribute to hearing loss.
There are a few ways to reduce your noise exposure and reduce your chance of hearing loss. The Dangerous Decibels program suggests walking away from loud sounds, turning down the volume (if possible), and wearing hearing protection.
Hearing protection comes in many sizes and styles. Over-the-counter hearing protection is available in most health stores, such as CVS or Walgreens. These foam earplugs are designed to be compressed and placed in each ear canal. The effectiveness of these plugs is affected by placement, and an earplug that sticks too far out of the ear canal will not reduce the noise exposure as much as one that is placed appropriately. If you have questions about insertion of your earplugs, see your hearing health care provider for guidance.
Ear muffs that fit over the ear generally have higher noise reduction ratings and are more consistently used correctly. This style of hearing protection is available in some outdoor stores or online. For extremely loud events, such as firing weapons, you may want to consider using earplugs under ear muffs to further reduce noise exposure.
Custom hearing protection is also available. Custom earplugs are made from an earmold impression and can be created for a variety of different situations. Musicians’ earplugs have special filters to better preserve the acoustics at musical events. Sleep plugs are designed to be fit deep in the ear canal, so they are comfortable while sleeping. Industrial earplugs are designed to quickly change the amount of attenuation in noisy work environments. There are even electronic earplugs that can be used while shooting.
We offer custom hearing protection at Ear Consultants of Georgia. If you are interested, please contact us at 404.943.0170.
- A message from Ear Consultants of Georgia and the It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing® public awareness campaign, a program of the National Institutes of Health.
- Information provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health.
- For more information, contact the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at 800-241-1044 or visit www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov.