26 million Americans — including men, women and kids — suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), according to the (NIH). NIHL may be temporary or permanent, caused by exposure to dangerous sound levels above 85 decibels (dB). The kinds of sounds that may cause NIHL cover anything from everyday city traffic at approximately 85 decibels to motorcycles, firecrackers and firearms that can exceed 120 decibels. Luckily, there are several hearing protection products are for sale at sporting goods and hardware stores which can preserve your hearing in these conditions.
The rating system for hearing protection. In the US, hearing protection is rated based on its level of protection in a system called the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). NRR is based on a decibel scale of 0 to 33 with the level of protection increasing with the number of the rating.
Deciding Between Earmuffs and Earplugs
Electronic earplugs offer variable protection, which means that after these small devices are inserted into the ear, they’re able to adjust the level of protection they offer according to to environment. On top of that, they react and adjust to muffle sudden noises, such as a gunshot or the crash from a cymbal. Other earplugs can even enhance your hearing by making safe sounds clearer while still keeping out the dangerously high volume sounds. These are especially helpful for hunting and at construction or industrial sites where loud sounds are frequent, but you still need to be able to hear people talking.
Electronic earmuffs are designed to cover the full outer ear with a padded insulation, and, although they look just like normal earmuffs, they are quite different. Other types include a built-in radio system to allow for communication between individuals working in noisy environments. Still others offer AM/FM radio reception, which can provide a bit of entertainment when you’re doing loud work around the yard.