Public health authorities believe that roughly 26 million people throughout the U.S. are impacted by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Noise-induced hearing loss is a temporary or permanent reduction in hearing ability brought on by exposure to a hazardous sound level – 85 decibels and up. The variety sounds that can cause NIHL cover anything from day to day city traffic at about 85 dB to fireworks, firearms and motorcycles which may top 120 decibels. Thankfully, there are many hearing protection devices are available for sale at sporting goods and hardware stores that can help save your hearing in these situations.
The rating system for hearing protection.
The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the United States standard rating system for the level of protection provided by a particular device.This rating ranges from 0 to 33 decibels with the larger rating offering greater ear protection.
Earplugs or Earmuffs
Electronic earmuffs – Electronic earmuffs are made to cup the full outer ear with a cushiony insulation, and, though they look just like regular earmuffs, they are very different. Certain units are better suited to unforeseen and infrequent loud noises, such as shots from firearms. Others include 2-way communication for people on dangerous and loud worksites. Still others offer AM/FM radio reception, which can provide a bit of entertainment while you’re doing noisy work in the yard.
Electronic earplugs – Electronic earplugs are compact devices positioned inside the ear to block extremes in outside noise, while still enabling you to hear lower level sounds close to you. They can respond rapidly to protect the user against unexpected loud noises such as a crash from a cymbal or an exploding firework. Certain kinds of plugs can even help you hear better by letting lower decibel sounds like people speaking to pass through unaltered while at the same time blocking the louder sounds. Earplugs are especially useful in situations where earmuff-type protection is too cumbersome or in situations where the wearer needs protection against frequent loud noises but still needs to hear other sounds in the environment.