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Hearing Protection Devices: Pros and Cons

 In Ear Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Prevention

Formable (roll down inserts): Placed into the entrance of the ear canal forming a seal to block sound.

Pros:

  • Foam standard sizes
  • Fills ear canal
  • Disposable
  • Good for long use
  • Small; not bulky; portable; easy storage
  • Inexpensive
  • Generally more comfortable
  • Can be worn without worrying about helmets, earrings, glasses, or hair interfering
  • Highest amount of attenuation

Cons:

  • Requires something to be in the ear
  • One size fits all
  • If not properly inserted, the amount of attenuation is reduced
  • Reusable on limited basis
  • Not washable; if dirty, wet, or earwax-y, it must be thrown away
  • Can be hard to fit (e.g. small canal, collapsing canal, odd canal anatomy, excessive wax, etc.)
  • If not properly cared for, it can insert dirt, infection etc., into ear
  • Ear mold impression not required

Price: $28.00-36.00 for 200 pairs

 

Premolded: Placed into the entrance of the ear canal forming a seal to block sound. Variety of sizes and styles. Flanges provide seal against canal wall.

Pros:

  • Re-usable
  • Keeps shape if kept clean
  • Washable
  • Insertion and removal handle available
  • Can be worn without worrying about helmets, earrings, glasses, or hair interfering
  • Easy storage

Cons:

  • Does not mold to ear
  • Does not fit to individual ear
  • Requires something to be in the ear
  • Can be hard to fit (e.g. small canal, collapsing canal, odd canal anatomy, excessive wax, etc.)
  • If not properly cared for, it can insert dirt, infection etc., into ear

Price: $1.45-16.75 per pair

 

Custom molded ear plug

Pros:

  • Molded to fit each individual
  • Comfortable
  • Can be worn without worrying about helmets, earrings, glasses, or hair interfering
  • Easy storage
  • Reusable
  • Last many years
  • Excellent for small canals or odd canal anatomy

Cons:

  • Requires something to be in the ear
  • Requires ear mold impression
  • If not properly cared for, it can insert dirt, infection etc., into ear

Price: $70.00 each; $140.00 for a pair

 

Ear muffs (standard and electronic): Placed over or around the ears creating a seal against the head. One size fits all.

Pros:

  • Easier to fit than other HPD
  • Hard to Lose
  • Can be taken off and put on multiple times per day
  • Do not need to insert anything into the canal
  • Reusable

Cons:

  • Periodic replacement of earmuffs or cushions
  • Can be uncomfortable
  • Can restrict head motion
  • Hair, glasses, or earrings can affect the amount of protection
  • Can cause pressure on head
  • Bulky; need more area to store

Price: Standard- $10.00-23.00; Electronic- $98.00-212.00

 

Musician earplugs: Custom earplugs; reduces sound levels evenly allowing speech and music to be more natural.

Pros:

  • Allows speech and music to sound more natural and clear (without a plugged or muffled feeling) while reducing risk of damage from noise
  • Allows musician to hear their own instrument and how it is blending with other instruments
  • Reusable
  • Washable
  • Lasts many years

Cons

  • Acclimation time
  • Deep earmold impression required
  • Extra care when cleaning
  • If filter is not properly placed back in mold correctly, it will not provide the amount of protection needed

Price: $100.00-125.00 each; $200.00-$250.00 for a pair

 

Digital custom earplugs/ premolded insert ear plugs: Built in electronics which detect when noise reaches a level that could be harmful (e.g. gun shot, explosions, crashes, etc.) and instantly reduces the noise to a safe level.

Pros:

  • Great for hunters or people in environments with fluctuating noise levels
  • Allows person to hear when loud sounds are not present because of the built in sound enhancer
  • Reusable
  • Washable
  • Small; convenient; easy storage.

Cons:

  • Requires something to be in the ear
  • Some require an earmold impression
  • Requires battery
  • Expensive

Price:  $200.00-600.00 each; $400.00-1,200.00 for a pair

 

Have more questions about hearing protection devices? Contact Arizona Hearing Center and talk to our board-certified specialists by phone at 602.313.1243, or by email at Scheduling@Azhear.Com.

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