Skip to content

Hearing Protectors

Font Size

Topic Overview

Being exposed to loud noises can result in hearing loss. As the loudness of a sound increases, the amount of time you can safely listen to the sound decreases. One way to protect your hearing is to wear hearing protectors, which reduce the loudness of the sound.

Hearing protectors are especially important for those who work in harmful noise situations every day. Harmful noise is any sound over 85 decibels. The noise found in the construction industry and in machine shops is often at this volume. Wearing hearing protectors increases the amount of time you can safely work in these types of situations.

Recommended Related to Ear Infection

Understanding Ear Infection -- Symptoms

The symptoms of an ear infection in adults are: Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain) A sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal A feeling of fullness in the ear Nausea Muffled hearing Ear drainage In children, the symptoms are: Tugging at the ear Poor sleep Fever Irritability, restlessness Ear drainage Diminished appetite Crying at night when lying down

Read the Understanding Ear Infection -- Symptoms article > >

The two main types of hearing protectors are earplugs and earmuffs.

  • Earplugs come in different sizes and should fit snugly into the outer ear canal. For people who need them frequently (such as people who are regularly exposed to job-related noise), they can be custom-made for a better fit. You also can buy disposable earplugs.
  • Earmuffs cover both ears entirely. When they fit properly and are held in place by a headband, they form an air-seal that reduces the volume of sound entering the ears.

You can reduce sound by up to 30 decibels (dB) when you wear well-fitted hearing protectors. They are most effective at reducing your total noise exposure and preventing damage to your hearing when you wear them continuously throughout the period of noise exposure. For example, if you work 8 hours a day in an environment with a harmful noise level (85 dB or more), wear your hearing protection 8 hours a day.

Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of all sounds. Although there has been some concern that hearing protectors may make it more difficult to hear important sounds, such as voices or machine sounds, you are generally able to adjust to the quieter sound level without any problems hearing what you need to hear.

People who already have hearing loss may find it harder to understand speech when they are wearing hearing earplugs or earmuffs. But wearing proper protection can help prevent more hearing loss.

For more information on the workplace and hearing loss, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has mandated hearing protection for people who are exposed to certain noise levels at work. You can contact OSHA with questions on workplace safety and health, including hearing loss, at 1-800-321-6742, or find information at www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/index.html.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

sore foot
3 warning signs.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms and treatment.
man behind computer screen
10 possible causes.
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Common triggers.
man screaming
Making sense of symptoms.
human liver
What puts you at risk?
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.