One of the prominent causes of hearing loss is excessive noise exposure. For many patients, they have grown up hunting and target shooting, or have worked many years in a very noisy job. Unfortunately, one the damage from noise has been done, there is no way to reverse it. Instead, we ask all of our patients to use hearing protection when they are going to be around excessive noise.
There are different types of hearing protection. The one that works the best is the one that you will wear consistently and properly.
- Over the ear: These devices look like headphones, or are sometimes referred to as “Mickey Mouse ears” due to their bulk. These cover the external part of the ear and block out many external sounds.
- In the ear (non-custom): These devices are generally available at drug stores and are made of foam or plastic. Non-custom devices fit into the ear with a tight fit and come in an array of sizes.
- In the ear (custom): For a more secure fit, custom molded hearing protection can be made. This requires a silicone-like mold of your ear to be made, then sent to an outside company for crafting. These are typically a rubber-like material.
Types of Sound reduction: Hearing protection can be divided into two categories of sound reduction; active and passive.
- Passive: Passive hearing protection uses the physical piece as the method of blocking the sound. These are less expensive than active hearing protection as there is no electronics within the devices. The foam hearing protection that is seen at drugs stores is a form of “passive” hearing protection. Passive hearing protection can be custom and non-custom.
- Active: Active hearing protection uses not only the physical properties of the device, but also electronics to reduce sound. Active hearing protection uses external microphones to analyze sounds in the surrounding area, then shut off when a loud sound is identified. Many hunters utilize active hearing protection to hear their environment, but the sound of the firearm is reduced. Active hearing protection can be custom or non-custom.
Here are some situations where Hearing protection should be utilized:
- Power tools, including lawn mowers
- Noisy work environments – factories, mills, military, aircraft
If you are interested in custom hearing protection, JHBI can help. We are able to take custom molds and order both active and passive hearing protection.