What are the Best Earplugs for Hearing Protection?

a pair of orange foam ear plugs

Hearing protection is necessary for those who are exposed to very loud noise mostly during work, or in other situations. There are different types of earplugs that work as hearing protection, along with earmuffs and canal caps. These will reduce the effect of the sound on your ears and protect them from any possible damage. Hearing protection also makes working in a noisy environment much more bearable and comfortable.

An audiologist can help you determine which type of hearing protection is best for you, according to your circumstances. They will also be able to give you all the advice you need to protect your hearing. Here is an overview of earplugs for hearing protection and the types of earplugs that are often recommended by an audiologist.

Earplugs for hearing protection

Look for earplugs with a single number rating (SNR) figure of at least 20dB. This means they will be effective enough to protect your ears from loud noise. For very loud noises go up to an SNR of 30dB, but make sure you speak to an audiologist first. Ensure the earplugs that you buy are designed for hearing protection. Certain earplugs are made for swimming or other purposes. They might not provide adequate protection. Here are the common types of earplugs.

Disposable earplugs

Disposable earplugs are typically made from a soft foam material and fit comfortably in your ears. Disposable earplugs can also be made from silicone or mineral wadding. To put them in place, you need to roll them in your fingers and carefully insert them into the ear canal. The foam material will expand once inside your ear and fit snugly. These can work as very effective hearing protection and are a cheaper option.

Reusable earplugs

These are made from a similar foam material or rubber, but the difference is that they are washable and reusable. The material is firmer, so you don’t need to roll them up before you put them in. This might make them slightly less comfortable, however, but the advantage is that you can wash and reuse them multiple times. Although they’re not custom-made, they are very durable so a good investment as hearing protection.

Catering earplugs

You can get earplugs that are specifically designed for the catering industry. Speak to an audiologist if you think the background noise is a little overwhelming in your workplace, and they will most likely recommend catering earplugs. The main advantage of these is that they can be found using a metal detector if you lose them in the kitchen for example. This is due to a metal insert inside the foam plug. They’re also often on a cord.

Custom-made earplugs

Custom-made earplugs are probably the best for hearing protection. This is because they fit your ear canal so well. An audiologist will take a mold to make custom earplugs. If you need to use hearing protection often, then it’s worth getting earplugs custom-made. They will last longer and be more comfortable. Due to their better fit, they will also be more likely to be effective as long-term hearing protection.

Musician’s earplugs

Musician’s earplugs are designed for those whose hearing could be affected by loud music. They have special acoustic filters that only decrease sound at certain pitches, meaning the music is still heard but the volume is controlled. Musicians will still be able to hear the same sound quality, only at less dangerous levels. These work very well as hearing protection and have a specific design for the music industry.

Shooter’s earplugs 

There are also earplugs that are specifically made for shooters. These are designed to block high-intensity noises such as gunshots but keep normal hearing to a safe minimum. This is for safety reasons. Shooters need to be able to hear what’s going on around them but protected from sudden loud shots. Shooter’s earplugs are typically made from special types of materials and some are even electronic. The electronic ones are adjustable depending on the situation. For example, shooting coaches can adjust their earplugs to be able to speak to students, but will still be protected against loud gunshots.

If you’re looking for the best earplugs for hearing protection, it really depends on the environment and situation you’ll be using them in. You should consider how often you will need hearing protection and speak to an audiologist first for advice. If you would like to learn more about Affordable Audiology and Hearing Services, contact us at 920-232-4752.