When Should You Wear Ear Plugs for Protection?
Though you may occasionally choose to wear ear plugs or muffs to block out obnoxious sounds like snoring or airplane noise, there are several situations you will find yourself in when ear protection is actually necessary to preserve your hearing. Many doctors recommend that you wear ear plugs whenever you are going to be exposed to noises above 85 decibels (as a frame of reference, an average conversation is about 60 decibels). Common situations that require ear protection to prevent hearing loss include working with heavy machinery such as tractors, table saws, lawnmowers, or chainsaws; spending time near explosions such as firecrackers or gunshots; and even going to concerts where the music is loud enough that you can't easily have a conversation without yelling.
How does Noise Damage Hearing?
Part of the process of hearing relies on the tiny hair cells located in your inner ear. These delicate hairs pick up the vibrations caused by sound waves and transmit them to your brain. Exposure to loud noises--either suddenly or over time--can damage or destroy these hair cells and render them useless. As your hairs get damaged, you will begin to notice that sounds become more muffled in daily life. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damage once it is done.
Wearing Ear Plugs and Muffs Properly
Proper use of ear plugs and ear muffs can protect your hearing from loud noises by blocking out the excessive vibrations. Protective ear muffs can simply be worn over your ears and are especially popular among people like landscapers or contractors, who are consistently exposed to loud noises as part of their jobs. Common styles of ear plugs worn inside the ear canal include those made from foam or silicone. No matter what materials you prefer, these ear plugs are all worn the same way. Simply roll them in your hands to make them more flexible and easier to apply, and then pull up on the top of your ear with one hand while you insert the plug into your ear canal with the other. Hold the ear plug in place for several seconds to allow it to achieve a good fit. You should notice that your own voice sounds muffled when you are wearing ear plugs correctly.
Consistent ear plug use is generally considered safe as long as you make sure that they aren't allowed to transmit dirt or germs into your ears. Wash your hands thoroughly before inserting ear protection and make sure that the plugs themselves are kept clean. You should also replace your ear plugs whenever they start to deteriorate, especially if you are no longer able to get an adequate seal in your ear.
Loud noises can be annoying at best and extremely harmful at worst, so you should do whatever is necessary to keep them from reaching your ears. Check out the selection of ear plugs and muffs available from drugstore.com to start protecting your hearing today.
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