The Hearing Clinic

Which earplugs will give the best protection?

Scientists are working to better understand noise induced hearing loss so we can improve the hearing protection that’s available and even enhance regulations around what companies need to do to protect their workforce. 

Noise damage reseach illustration

One of the key challenges is that there are different types of sound, and therefore noise exposure. At work or at play, some people are exposed to continuous, long-duration noises, while others may be subject to loud and fast sounds (called ‘impulsive’ noise).

What noise are you at risk from?

Levels of continuous noise are easier to test, but different loud and fast sounds can cause different types of hearing damage. What’s more, the impact this type of noise has will depend on the noise level, its source, distance and the direction a person is facing. As you might imagine, this is extremely hard to test. However, testing is key if we’re to know that your choice of hearing protection is doing its job.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have recently developed new lab techniques for measuring impulsive noises and their impact on the human hearing system. They have tested earmuffs, standard foam ear plugs, gel ear plugs and ear plugs with silicone flanges and found all four styles would benefit from improvements in terms of the protection they offer in the high frequencies.

Hopefully soon, thanks to improvements in sensitivity testing, hearing protection manufacturers will be better able to tailor and enhance their hearing protection products so users will have greater choice and protection, and know which hearing protection is appropriate in which circumstances.

Here to help

If you’re not sure which hearing protection is right for you, talk to us at The Hearing Clinic. We supply a range of products and can help you find the appropriate option for work or play.

Audiologist of the Year 2018 WinnerAudiologist of the Year 2014 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2015 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2016 Runner-upInspired by Ida Clinic badgeInspired by Ida Professional badgeAssured Hearing Care badgeHCPC Registered badge