We live in a noisy world full of machines and equipment. Sometimes the barrage of sound around us is so loud that continued exposure can cause permanent damage to our sensitive hearing mechanism. Whether you’re at a concert, at the shooting range, watching or participating in sporting events, or mowing your lawn, having to yell to be heard is a sign that you’re in a dangerously loud environment. Hearing protection is a must in such situations even if you already wear a hearing aid, says Dr. Ingrid Edwards, audiologist and clinical director of the Heuser Hearing Institute. It may not be possible to reverse existing hearing loss, but with proper care you can keep the hearing you have and prevent further damage.
Solution 1: Protective Earplugs
Basic disposable or reusable earplugs offer good protection against excessive noise. Hunters, amateur singers and musicians, and other people who need to hear their surroundings while still protecting their ears can get earplugs with electronic enhancers that suppress harmful sounds without sacrificing hearing ability. For more frequent or extended wear, custom earplugs in both regular and electronic types may provide more comfort than one-size-fits-all models. “The skin on the ear is thin, and the ear bruises easily, especially as we age,” Dr. Edwards says, “so make sure your earplugs fit well and are comfortable to wear for the duration of your activity.”
Where to get them: Regular earplugs are available at most drugstores. Electronic models can be found in sporting and outdoor stores and online. An audiologist will make custom earplugs to fit.
Price: $4-$6 for a multipack of regular earplugs (reusable ones may cost a little more); $15-$20 for a pair of electronic earplugs; ask your audiologist about the price of custom earplugs.
Solution 2: Protective Earmuffs
If you don’t like the feel of earplugs, you can opt for a pair of protective earmuffs instead. Like earplugs, earmuffs are also available in electronic versions that provide both sound access and noise suppression for when you want to hear your environment without exposing your ears to dangerous levels of sound volume. Earmuffs are also a somewhat cheaper alternative to custom earplugs for people who find that regular earplugs don’t fit right or hurt, Dr. Edwards says.
Where to get them: Available in sporting and outdoor stores, and online.
Price: $20-$25 for basic models, $50 and up for electronic versions.
P.S. Find out how to maintain a regular, comfortable bathroom routine as you get older.
BY YELENA SAPIN