It’s pretty easy to get hearing loss. It takes just 85 decibels in fact. The sound level reached by a rock concert is 100 decibels: not the best news for musicians or concert goers.

There are several other sources of hearing damage. Here are some typical decibel levels associated with daily work related activities:

  • a power saw can reach 110 decibels
  • a newspaper press 97
  • a chain saw 120
  • sporting event 105
  • jet takeoff 150

Professionals such as musicians, factory workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency personnel, plumbers, and carpenters all put themselves at risk of developing severe hearing loss and tinnitus over time.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are a better choice than the off-the-shelf foam variety

We list four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.

1. Price & convenience

Check out how much it costs for disposable foam plugs:

$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair

$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60
With custom-fit ear plugs, you will save money in the long run and will prevent all of those trips to the store. No one enjoys buying ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist can be an inconvenience, in the long run it’s the best option.

Conversely, custom ear plugs can last up to four years, usually at a price of well under $100.

2. Preservation of sound quality

Custom-fit ear plugs can cut down on sound more evenly across frequencies while reducing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the natural quality of speech and music.

Conventional foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. Music and voices sound unnatural and unclear, by reducing sound mostly in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range. Foam ear plugs also reduce sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the prevention of hearing damage.

3. Protecting the environment

Disposable ear plugs create waste, period:

5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out each year.

4. Prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”

With foam ear plugs, the wearer will hear a hollow or boomy sound in their voice when talking, singing, or playing an instrument. This sound is referred to as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are molded to the ear, creating a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.

Protecting your ears in the workplace

Sure, we all need musicians, carpenters, and emergency and construction workers, but there’s really no doing away with power saws and police sirens, right?

Right. But you could reduce the level of sound that enters your ear. To achieve this, you could head to your local store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs. However, there is actually a much better alternative, such as a visit with the audiologist.

The optimal solution requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, also called musicians plugs, which your hearing specialist can customize specifically to your ears.

Work-related hearing loss affects thousands

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 alone there were 21,000 cases of work-related hearing loss reported. Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows the dangers of occupational noise. He worked on testing and fixing police car sirens for more than 30 years. These machines can reach between 106 to 118 decibels!

After retiring, Twigg had tinnitus along with extreme hearing loss that required the use of a hearing aid. Because he didn’t take the protective measures that would mitigate the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court. He lost a case in which Twigg would win a large settlement.

Schedule an appointment and protect your ears

The benefits of custom-fit ear plugs are obvious. Do you work in a profession that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage or regularly attend loud concerts or sporting events? Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears and preserve the quality of sound, which disposable foam varieties most certainly cannot do.

It’s interesting to note that, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels, making this one of the top occupational risk hazards over the past 25 years. Do what you can to curb hearing damage in loud places.