What are the 6 Different Types of Earplugs For Every Purpose?
Earplugs are a very accessible way to achieve better sleep, prevent noise-induced hearing loss, and reduce incidents of recurrent ear infection. Like most things, they have greatly improved over time, with new materials and more advanced production methods.
Without effective earplug use, noise-induced hearing loss is certain amongst community groups such as musicians, tradesmen, drivers and many industry workers.
According to Safe Work Australia, there were “about 16 500 successful workers’ compensation claims for industrial deafness involving permanent impairment due to noise” over the course of five years.
This type of hearing protection is extremely versatile. Earplugs are comfortable, customisable, affordable and long-lasting. They will be your best defence against many ear health issues and can prevent the need for hearing aids.
Continue reading to find out how you can protect your hearing health.
Different Types of Earplugs
1. Earplugs for Noise Reduction
If you work in a noisy job or have noisy hobbies, earplugs can block most or some of the noise. As we all know, “noise destroys”: Severe noise shears the hair cells off at their base, resulting in permanent hearing loss that, unfortunately, is not reversible.
It is essential to protect your hearing with earplugs when you are exposed to very loud noise. If you are, for example, exposed to explosive noise from air compressors, grinders or gunfire, or loud noise over a long period of time, maybe from traffic or machinery, it can have lasting effects on your hearing.
Noise damage can affect your life in many ways. Oftentimes, you may hear what someone is saying, but not understand. You will feel like people are mumbling. Earplugs can soften the damaging part of the noise, ensuring that your auditory hair cells remain intact for longer. Nowadays, earplugs have many specific purposes.
You can have customised earplugs with interchangeable filters that are made to suit your lifestyle. Some filters will block nearly all sound, others can block low pitch sounds, drums and general nightclub sounds. They are extremely comfortable and can prevent or delay the need for hearing aids.
If you feel that you have sustained noise damage, you may need to have your hearing tested.
To remediate your noise-induced hearing loss, a range of hearing solutions are available. Hearing aids, for example, can boost the sound where your hearing is lacking and support your natural hearing where possible. But of course, prevention is better than cure. Whilst hearing aids are very helpful, it is always best to look after your natural hearing and use different types of earplugs to avoid hearing loss.
2. Earplugs for Swimmers
Keeping water out of your ears can reduce the risk of infections. Tropical ear infections are a fungal infection caused by fungal growth in warm moist environments. White spores will form inside the ear and can grow causing painful ears and block your hearing. During this time, hearing aids cannot be worn as they will prevent the ear from drying out. Bacterial infections can occur from bacteria in leaf litter in the water.
It will enter your ear if you already have a perforation in it and worsen the infection. An ear infection can take many weeks to treat and can be painful and cause scarring on your eardrum. With a history of recurrent ear infections, some hearing loss can occur. Earplugs can prevent infections by stopping water from entering the ear, keeping it dry.
Do you love swimming? Find out why your ears hurt underwater!
3. Grommets and Earplugs
People with grommets can sometimes be advised to wear earplugs while the grommets are in place. Grommets are a tube placed into the eardrum, allowing an infection to dry up through it.
The Middle Ear area should be filled with air, not pus or fluid. The fluid will prevent hearing. Earplugs keep the water out, the ear dry and the middle ear space filled with air, allowing for normal hearing.
4. Earplugs for Sleeping
Barking dogs, parties, a snoring partner…there are many sounds that can prevent us from sleeping. Earplugs are a simple way to prevent sleep disruption. Sleep plugs are now made with very soft silicone, designed to be comfortable overnight.
They have a low profile to enable them to be slept on easily. Earplugs are an easy way to stop noise from delaying your sleep onset so you can focus on the day ahead.
5. Earplugs for Shooting
Some firearms can make up to 140dB of noise! This is louder than a jet plane (120db). This type of noise requires very advanced earplugs. Increased technology has now provided for electronic earplugs that amplify soft sounds like grass rustling or whispering and still suppress gunfire. This allows you to continue your hobby or competition shooting knowing that you are doing everything possible to protect yourself from noise damage.
There is no surgery that can repair noise damage. It is suggested by earplug manufacturers that shooters should use double hearing protection in the form of squishy inserts with earmuffs over the top. Electronic shooter plugs are also very effective. Without adequate hearing protection, shooting can incur a hearing loss after even one shot if it is close to the ear.
6. Hearing aids
We know, hearing aids are technically not earplugs, but still: Hearing aids will not only amplify sounds over a set volume, but they also compress the sound down to a safe level. Whilst we’d never recommend hearing aids instead of earplugs, it is worth noting that hearing aids do not put the wearer at risk of further noise damage by amplifying loud sounds.
When hearing aids are worn with a full mould, they block the natural sound from entering the ear and all sound put through to the wearer has passed through the advanced processing system of the aid and is compressed or not amplified at all, to keep the wearer safe.
In a Nutshell
Earplugs are very versatile and essential in looking after your ear health. The effects of ear infection and noise damage can include requiring hearing aids. It is best to prevent threats to your ear health by considering the right earplug and hearing protection for you.
First things first: Have your hearing tested by an Attune Hearing Audiologist who can assess your hearing health and make recommendations for high-quality earplugs that minimise noise sources as much as possible, such as turning down amplifiers or using quieter machinery.