According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) impacts 26 million individuals of every age in the U.S.. This condition may be permanent or temporary, caused by exposure to hazardous sound levels above 85 decibels (dB). The types of noises that may cause noise-induced hearing loss cover anything from everyday city traffic at about 85 decibels to motorcycles, guns and fireworks which may exceed 120 dB. Thankfully, there are numerous hearing protection options are available at sporting goods and hardware stores that can help save your hearing in these situations.

A hearing protection scale

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the United States standard rating system for the level of protection provided by a specific device.NRR is measured a decibel scale of 0 to 33 with the level of protection rising with the number of the rating.

Choosing Earplugs or Earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs cover the entire outer ear with a soft insulating material and, while most versions look the same to non-electronic earmuffs, they are very distinctive. Other earmuffs come with a built-in 2-way radio system that allows users to communicate with each other in hazardous working environments. There are even some that let you enjoy the radio when you are in a noisy place, which is wonderful when mowing the lawn or blowing leaves.

Electronic earplugs

Electronic earplugs are placed inside the ear and provide variable protection, which means the level of protection rises and falls depending on external noises. They are able to adjust rapidly to protect the wearer against sudden loud noises like and exploding firework or gunshot. Some kinds of electronic earplugs can allow lower-decibel sounds like speech to reach the wearer while at the same time blocking dangerous loud noises. These are extremely useful for hunting and at construction or industrial sites where loud noises are frequent, but you still need to be able to hear people talking.