3 Different Styles of Hearing Protection

three sets of earplugs on black tabletop

Loud noises such as music, hammering, drilling and using industrial equipment can cause serious ear damage. Being part of a musical ensemble, working with a building crew or even in an engine room of a ship in close range to loud sounds puts you at risk of developing serious and irreversible conditions.

Often, those who work around loud sounds will develop audio-related issues such as tinnitus and hearing loss which makes the use of audiologist-recommended ear protection vital if exposed to prolonged and continuous high sound levels on a regular basis. There are various types of hearing protection available, each with its own specific uses.

The three different types of hearing protection are:

  • Full-insert earplugs
  • Semi-insert earplugs
  • Ear defenders

The primary purpose of full-insert earplugs is to directly protect the cochlea against issues arising from exposure to loud sounds and are usually disposable while semi-insert earplugs also reduce noise and volume and are designed for repeated, temporary use and ear defenders protect the whole ear from very loud and high-frequency sounds.

Full-insert earplugs

At around 85 decibels (dB), not much louder than an average conversation, sounds become harmful to the ear, many situations such as live music, building sites and industrial shop floors can reach between 90dB to 140dB. This is far too loud for your ears to be exposed to on a regular basis and will cause issues if continued.

Usually disposable and designed to be inserted all the way into the ear canal, full-insert earplugs offer the best level of noise reduction available with a noise reduction rating of around 33dB. They work by reducing the amount of sound pressure that can reach your eardrum which in turn dramatically reduces the chance of incurring any damage to your hearing. 

Semi-insert ear plugs

These are designed for continuous and prolonged use by an individual on a regular basis and as such are attached to each other by a rigid band that rests around the base of the neck. The band is usually flexible so as to push the earplugs in place to the outer ear canal and as such makes them ideal for people who need to constantly remove or insert them.

The semi-insertion aspect of these earplugs means that they do not offer you the same amount of protection as full-insertion earplugs and are recommended for temporary use rather than prolonged use. Incorrect sizing and brand quality can also further reduce the effectiveness of semi-insert earplugs.   

Ear defenders

Ear defenders, are large full ear protection devices that seal around the whole ear rather than protecting the cochlea directly as with full or semi-insert earplugs. As such, they don’t provide the same amount of protection but they are better suited for high-frequency ear protection.

Their strong and sturdy design makes ear defenders a suitable option when working in dangerous areas such as a building site and are often worn by aerospace personnel to protect against the high-frequency sounds of jet engines. Newer models can also be fitted with electronic volume adjustments that allow a higher or lower decibel level.

Give us a call today

Are you interesting in purchasing hearing protection? Our professionals at Harbor Audiology are glad to recommend the best products for your needs. Give us a call at one of the following locations:

  • Bainbridge Island: (253) 525-4236
  • Gig Harbor: (253) 851-3932
  • Omak: (509) 852-7000
  • Port Angeles: (360) 362-7455
  • Sequim: (360) 681-7500
  • Silverdale: (360) 692-6650
  • Tacoma: (253) 473-4394
  • Wenatchee: 509-852-7000