Earplugs offer protection against noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. You should use them in noisy surroundings, at work, at music events and at sports events. Here is a brief guide to selecting the best earplug for you.
All earplugs offer some noise reduction. But that’s were the similarities may end, as earplugs come in man sizes, designs and colors.
Generally speaking, earplugs can be divided into three categories: Disposable, Reusable and Custom.
Disposable earplugs are an easy and inexpensive solution if you suddenly find yourself in a noisy environment or need to use some power tools at home. The simple foam earplugs can be reused a limited number of times.
Disposable earplugs may be hard to place correctly in the ear. Foam offers less protection than other materials against low frequency noise. This results in some distortion of music, making these earplugs less than ideal for use at concerts and other performances.
You can find disposable earplugs at your local pharmacy or hearing care professional. The cost for foam earplugs can run approximately $2.00 for a package of eight plugs.
For the person who mows their lawn, uses power tools or who works at a noisy job, custom earplugs offers another solution than disposable earplugs. Because the earplugs are custom made, they are more comfortable than disposable earplugs and can be worn for a longer period of time without irritation. And because they offer a tighter seal than disposable earplugs, they provide a higher noise reduction rating.
Custom earplugs can be purchased through your local audiologist. Prices start around $125.
For concerts, reusable earplugs are a “sound” investment. They “filter” the sound, entering the ear canal, through a narrow channel running the length of the ear plug. This has a limiting effect on the sound with little or no distortion.
Reusable earplugs such as the Ety Plugs from Etymotic Research will run between $10 and $15 and can be used over and over. They generally offer a better fit and are more comfortable than disposable earplugs.
If you are a musician, attend lots of concerts, or work at a noisy job, then you should consider custom molded earplugs. They are made by an Audiologist based on an impression of your ear canals and offer a built-in filter. Because they are made from an impression of your ears, they are a perfect fit for your ears. They are comfortable to wear and last for a long time. Dependent up on the size and material, custom musician earplugs can cost up to $175.