Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

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


Earwax is produced by glands in the ear canal. Although scientists are still not completely sure why we have earwax, it does trap dust and other small particles and prevent them from reaching, and potentially damaging or infecting the eardrum. Normally, the wax dries up and falls out of the ear, along with any trapped dust or debris. Everyone makes ear wax, but the amount and type are genetically determined just like hair color or height. Smaller or oddly shaped ear canals may make it difficult...

Read the Earwax 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


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.