There is a variety of different ways to protect your ears. These methods are basically divided into two different types: ear protection that closes off the auditory canal, which includes various types of ear plugs, ear plugs with frames, wadding and earmolds or ear protection that covers the ear. This type of protection is not inserted into the ear, but sits on the ear in the same way as headphones do. The many different models provide appropriate protection for any use and situation.
Expanding Foam Ear Plugs
- Easy to insert and remove
- No cleaning necessary
- Available with cords
- Can be worn with other protective gear e.g. helmets
- Can cause itching in the ear canal
- Results in ear wax being pushed down into the ear canal and often blocking the ear canal completely
- One day to one week One day recommended for hygiene reasons
- Not always easy to put in the ear for some people
Pre-shaped Ear Plugs
- Intended for repeated use
- Can be inserted without prior shaping
- Available for different ear canal dimensions
- Different softness levels
- Can cause an unpleasant sensation of pressure in the ear canal
- One week to several months
Ear Plugs with Attachments
Ear plugs with frames consist of ready-shaped plugs attached to a frame. In many types the attachments can be worn at the back of the neck, on the head or under the chin. Ear plugs with attachments are particularly suited where the ear protection has to be frequently removed and replaced.
If they are not worn correctly, the minimum sound insulation level is not reached, so these ear plugs should not be used at high noise levels above 90dB. Sounds transmitted into the ear via the frame – by contact with the hands, for example – can sometimes cause an unpleasant sensation.
- 1 month to 1 year
When ear protection that fits inside the ear cannot be worn because the ear canal is too narrow or too wide, earmuffs are recommended. These “headphones” are very convenient, even in situations when protection has to be frequently removed and replaced because the noise occurs repeatedly but is only of short duration.
Versions that include hygiene packs or electronics – such as communication devices or integral radio – can be used in the widest variety of applications.
Earmuffs may make it more difficult to locate the sources of sound, so for safety they should not be used in situations when good directional hearing is needed.
Communication headphones make a big difference in noisy workplaces where you need to hear someone speaking and do not want to take your hearing protection off.
- 3-4 years of regular use however they may need to be changed if the earmuff cover is showing signs of deterioration
Custom Ear Molds: almost always the best option
An individual mould is made for each ear canal. High-quality fitting and a good, close fit give especially high levels of comfort. Special holes allow optional filters to be inserted and replaced, which means that the ear plugs can be modified to suit the required or mandatory level of sound insulation. These should be prepared and fitted by an experienced audiologists
Ear molds are particularly suitable for musicians. There are versions for shooters and for especially useful for the person with unusual or small ear canals.
- Up to 5 years (with regular inspections)
Hearing Care Professionals offers a full range of custom hearing protectors and impressions for in ear monitors are made here in Australia.
All information is provided in the interests of Hearing Health education and is of a general nature. In all cases you should consult your doctor or other allied health professional for advice regarding your individual circumstances.