Hearing Protection Device

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Not every consumer's needs are the same, and shopping for a hearing protection device for a specific application can be a tedious affair. The most important factors to consider when shopping are whether or not the product in question is comfortable hearing protection, and whether or not the noise reduction level is appropriate for you needs. Comfort, being a subjective concern, is really up to you. Noise reduction and questions about decibels are objective concerns. With the help of a few simple facts, you can easily assess the level of noise reduction that you need.

Finding the Right Hearing Protection Device

Louder environments generally require more noise protection than quieter ones. At first this may seem obvious, but a hearing protection device that silences your surroundings completely can be overkill for those of us who need to maintain open communication while protecting our ears. Many products with high attenuation muddle or extinguish high frequencies altogether, which dramatically reduces speech clarity. If clarity of communication is important to you, you may want to look at attenuation data for a product as well as its decibel reduction (NNR) rating.

Even if speech clarity isn't an important consideration for you, you may want to look at a product's attenuation data. If you work onsite with heavy machinery, you may be exposed to extremely high frequency noises that can be more damaging to your hearing than lower frequencies. You may be able to find a hearing protection device that that attenuates high frequencies disproportionately to lower ones, which could keep your hearing safe while not over-attenuating less damaging frequencies.

Lastly, hearing protection doesn't always mean protection from loud noises. If you swim or enjoy water sports, water can be just as damaging to your hearing as loud machinery. Water trapped in your ear canal can lead to ear infections such as swimmer's ear. Wax earplugs can serve double-duty as great protection from loud noises as well as effective protection against ear infections. If you are unsure whether or not a product is right for you, please consult an audiologist or online hearing resource guide for more information.

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