Understanding the Importance of Ear Protection

by | May 31, 2022 | News

Many people do not acknowledge the importance of ear protection, and even if they do, they do little to protect their hearing. Hearing loss is not always a consequence of genetics or aging. Sometimes, the loss is related to noise exposure.  

Everyone experiences some level of noise every day, whether around the water cooler or working on a construction site. You might even damage your ears by listening to music or watching television. Your ears are vital to communication and routine activities; aren’t they worth protecting. 

Why Use Hearing Protection

While not all ear protectors are attractive or comfortable, they are designed to protect you against noise induced hearing loss. People might not realize it, but NIHL is often permanent. The eardrums do not and cannot heal themselves like other parts of the body.  

Aside from the permanence of hearing loss, some ear damage can lead to persistent tinnitus. Tinnitus is a near-constant buzzing or ringing in your ears, and it can become unbearable. Some people describe tinnitus as alarm bells constantly going off for weeks or months at a time. Tinnitus results from damage to the inner ear and can be prevented with appropriate ear protection.  

Your ears are fragile, and damage is usually permanent. Wearing ear protectors help ensure you keep your hearing for as long as possible. 

The Risks of Noise Exposure

People often assume that hearing loss results from genetics or prolonged exposure to intense sounds. However, realistically, a single, loud noise can cause extensive and irreparable damage. For instance, an explosion can lead to NIHL despite the incident only lasting a moment. 

Most issues of NIHL occur because of prolonged or cumulative exposure without adequate protection. For instance, an individual working in a woodworking shop or construction site can experience hearing loss. Additionally, even if a person wears ear protection, they can still experience hearing loss if the protectors are not adequately rated. 

Situations That May Require Ear Protection

Earplugs are an asset. Some common activities that can potentially damage your hearing include: 

  • Using power tools 
  • Going to a concert 
  • Watching fireworks 
  • Mowing the lawn 
  • Participating in water sports 

Many people do not realize that noise is not the only threat to your hearing. Water and temperature can also affect your ears and cause hearing loss. 

Understanding Noise Reduction Ratings

When selecting headphones to reduce noise levels and exposure, it is necessary to understand the noise reduction rating. The NRR is measured using a meter with a “slow” response and “A” weighting. Using this, an individual can determine how much protection ear covers or plugs provide. 

For example, if an environment has a decibel rating of 90 and an individual has ear protection with an NRR of 25 decibels, then the individual will still hear 72 decibels. To get this, you need to subtract seven from the NRR when “A” weighted, meaning the protectors account for a savings of 18 decibels. Subtract 18 from 90, and you get 72 decibels. 

OSHA requires a 50% correction factor, meaning the individual will still hear 81 decibels. With the change in the calculation, you need to divide the weighted value by two. 

When looking for ear protection, find protectors with an adequate NRR rating.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or to make an appointment:

Call or text: (626) 734-6555

Email us at: appointments@hearcenter.org 

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Also, for more information about our Audiological Evaluations (hearing test) please visit our webpage: https://www.hearcenter.org/services/audiology/