How Common Is Hearing Loss?
Studies show that about 10% of Americans have suffered enough hearing loss for it to be difficult for them to hear everyday conversations at normal levels.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
While there are many causes of hearing loss, some forms of it are preventable. Often, hearing loss is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises. This is because the sound waves of intense, loud noises slowly damage the nerves that carry signals from the ears to the brain. The louder the noise is and the more frequently you're exposed to it, the greater the risk is that you'll experience nerve damage.
Can You Prevent Hearing Loss?
Studies show that using ear protection when using power tools, attending loud concerts, shooting a gun and working around loud equipment can greatly reduce damage and make it less likely that a person will develop hearing loss.
Ear Plugs vs Ear Muffs
There are two types of hearing protection that can be used to muffle loud sounds and protect your hearing: ear plugs and ear muffs.
Ear plugs are small pieces of foam that are worn inside of the ear canal. When they are the proper size, they can fill the opening and block sound.
Ear muffs are protective circles of plastic and metal covered with padding that are attached to a headband. The circles cover the entire ear. Some people find ear muffs convenient because they can be put on and taken off quickly, feel that they are more comfortable or have an easier time getting a good fit with the covers.
Individuals who prefer ear plugs might like that they are more discreet, that they are cooler in hot weather or that they do not interfere with wearing eyeglasses or headgear. There are also individuals who find ear plugs more comfortable than ear muffs.
Ear Protection for Other Needs
Ear plugs aren't just worn for sound protection. If you suffer from frequent swimmer's ear or outer ear infections, your doctor may recommend that you wear waterproof ear plugs when you swim and shower. There are also ear plugs designed to alleviate various types of ear discomfort, such as pain from pressure changes in airplanes and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). back to top »