Custom Hearing Protection

Custom Hearing Protection

In the course of everyday life, we are exposed to many different kinds of sounds, from electronics, appliances or even traffic, which are generally at safe levels and will not affect or damage our hearing. However, sounds can be harmful when they are loud even for a brief time, particularly if they are loud and long lasting. One of the most common causes of hearing loss is repeated exposure to loud noises, which is more commonly referred to as Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).

Professionals generally define loud noises as those exceeding a decibel level of 85, which is the level of noise generated from heavy city traffic. For further reference, normal conversation is generally at 60 decibels, motorcycles operate at 95 decibels and sirens are typically at 120 decibels. Many people are regularly exposed to loud noises in their work environment (ie. construction, manufacturing jobs, woodworking shops, lawn maintenance) or in recreation. Riding a motorcycle, attending concerts, hunting or even attending sporting events increase the risk for noise-induced hearing loss, which can be permanent and irreparable.

Exposure to loud sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear, in particular, the hair cells, which are sensory cells, which bend with the sound waves as it moves through the ear canal. Once these hair cells are damaged and die, they do not grow back. Damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, and therefore may not be noticeable for some time, yet it can also be immediate. The damage from NIHL in combination with aging can cause hearing loss severe enough to require the use of hearing aids. In more severe cases, repeated exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent damage that neither surgery nor a hearing aid can help correct.

Hearing protection is the best form of prevention for NIHL, with the best kind depending on lifestyle needs. There are many types of custom molded earplugs available for individuals of any age, suited for any work or recreational situation. Custom molded earplugs have several advantages over generic earplugs, in particular the superior comfort provided from a custom fit, even when worn for long durations. There are also several different filters available to accommodate the level of sound protection needed, designed to retain accurate frequency response, for clear, natural sounds at a reduced volume.

Hearing loss from loud noises affects quality of life in many ways, reducing the ability to communicate, hear high frequencies and understand speech. Individuals are exposed to harmful noises at any age, and professionals consider our youth at particular risk due to the common practice of listening to music through headphones at harmful levels. NIHL is entirely preventable. For more information about prevention and custom hearing protection, visit a Sound Advice Hearing Doctors clinic.

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