One of the easiest things you can do to protect your hearing is to use ear plugs. Ear plugs physically impede sound waves when inserted into the ear canal. There are many types of ear plugs on the market, making shopping confusing for some people, but with a little knowledge you can find the right pair for your situation.
First of all, figure out how much noise reduction you need from your ear plugs. Ear plugs are labelled with a noise reduction rating (NRR) to indicate how much noise they are able to block. Better quality ear plugs will have NRR’s between 21 and 33. Figure out where and when you will use your ear plugs. For example, you will find that plugs with a lower NRR will be sufficient if you plan to use them to block out traffic noise while working or studying. However if you spend a lot of time around fairly loud noises you’ll need a higher NRR as would be the case for heavy equipment operators or musicians.
The composition of your ear plugs is another important factor to consider. Foam is one of the most basic materials used in ear plugs. These plugs are compressed as they are inserted, then expand to plug the ear. In contrast, you can use silicone plugs to mold a perfectly-fitted barrier around the outside of your ear. Both silicone and foam plugs are intended to be disposed of after several uses.
Your final step is to consider why you are shopping for plugs in the first place. You can get away with using a simple silicone or foam plug in many situations, but there are specific plugs made for certain environments. For example, musicians often have custom ear plugs molded for them because they spend so much time around loud music both practicing and performing. These plugs are carefully crafted to fit your ear, allowing you to hear what you are playing while blocking out harmful sounds.
Many people shop for earplugs to wear while sleeping to block out the sound of their partner’s snoring. You can find ear plugs that are specifically designed to block out snoring without keeping you from hearing your fire alarm and alarm clock. When comparing ear plugs for sleeping, be sure to test them out with your head tilted sideways. You’ll want to choose a pair that fits well while lying down.
If you take the time to really think about what you need your earplugs for, you should not have any problems finding a pair that suits you.