Noisy Lives and Hearing Loss: A Case for Custom Ear Protection

In Hearing Protection by Ed Kocher, ACA, BC-HIS

Ed Kocher, ACA, BC-HIS

Hearing loss affects 37 million Americans. From workplace noise to rock concerts and daily city noise, no one is safe from hearing loss. Even listening to music with earbuds during your workout or daily commute puts your hearing at risk. No matter your age, all of us – seniors, adults, and teenagers – need to understand the causes of hearing loss, and learn to protect our hearing.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

The most common form of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, or SNHL, and over 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with SNHL every year! SNHL is caused by damage to the cells in the inner ear. As sounds enter your ear, they are directed towards the cochlea, or inner ear. Here the sound waves hit tiny hair cells that translate the sound waves into electrical signals to send to the brain. When dangerously loud sounds enter your ear they cause permanent damage to these fragile hair cells. Damaged or destroyed hair cells never regenerate, and with damaged hair cells you experience permanent hearing loss.

A recent study reports that 58 million Americans are being exposed to loud noises every day, facing hair cell damage, tinnitus, and permanent hearing loss. Where are all these people finding dangerously loud sounds? The researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered that most damaging exposure is in noisy workplaces and recreational settings such as concert halls, sports venues or shooting ranges, where very few people are wearing hearing protection.

Protect Your Hearing

The research showed that nearly 40% of those exposed to dangerous noise levels at work don’t wear hearing protection, while over 60% don’t protect their ears in leisure setting! “This degree of noise exposure has the potential to cause long term hearing consequences,” say the researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Wearing hearing protection is the best line of defense against hearing loss. When at work or in a noisy bar or concert hall, always wear earplugs! Not sure if you should be protecting your hearing? If there’s any question in your mind, you should probably be wearing protection. Are your ears ringing? Do you have to shout to talk to the person next to you? If the answer is yes, it’s far too loud and you’ll be damaging your hearing. Time to pop in the earplugs, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

How Custom Hearing Protection Helps

Have you considered custom hearing protection? The foam ear plugs most readily available can be uncomfortable to wear, or muffle sounds in a way that makes hearing normal conversation difficult. Many people feel self-conscious wearing bright orange plugs in their ears, so they choose to damage their hearing rather than wear this conspicuous ear protection.

That’s where custom hearing protection come in. No two ears are the same, so it makes sense that the same earplugs won’t feel good for everyone. Custom hearing protection is designed to fit your unique ear, and can be worn for hours with no discomfort. They are made with medical grade hypoallergenic silicone and sit snuggly in your ear without causing pressure or pain. Custom protection is available in tones that match your skin, so you can easily wear these discreet devices whenever you need protection. As an added plus, custom ear protection comes in different styles for different purposes. For example, hunter’s earplugs and musician’s earplugs differ by allowing in sounds that you want to hear with your different activities.

Passive and Active Attenuation

Tired of the muffled sounds that foam earplugs create? Ear protection with passive attenuation has filters that reduce all the noise equally, so you have safe sound levels without distortion. Both the loud and soft sounds will be lowered equally, maintaining the balance of the sound. This is perfect if you work in a sector that is constantly loud, use power tool or heavy machinery, or attend a pounding rock concert.

For those who need to hear subtleties in the sounds, or experience a mixture of loud and soft sounds, active attenuation ear protection is available. This digital hearing device provides protection only when needed. Soft sounds within safe listening levels aren’t affected at all, but loud sounds are detected and lowered. You can have a conversation with your colleagues and still be protected from the sudden burst of loud sound.

Do the right thing for your ears. Invest in custom hearing protection and safeguard your hearing for years to come. Visit us at Advanced Tech Hearing for a custom ear protection fitting, and discuss other ways to keep your hearing safe.