Sometimes more is better, when it comes to the protection of your hearing this holds especially true. What it more specifically comes down to is the application you will be using it for and the decibel rating in your immediate area. Generally speaking foam ear plugs offer a greater protection rating than those of standalone ear muffs. According to OSHA standards, once dB’s break the 105 mark is when serious hearing damage can occur. Using both plugs and muffs can afford the user an additional protection of four to eight dB’s which in turn reduces dangerous sound levels of 60-85%. That’s a whole lot of saving your ears. The following will go into both the muffs and the plugs by themselves as well as using them both together.
Ear Plugs by Themselves
Depending on your work life, size of your ear and what you’re comfortable with ear plugs may be your saving grace. Unlike muffs which can be big, clunky and downright uncomfortable all ear plugs do is essentially plug up your ear canal to not allow any sound in. Ear plugs are essentially much less expensive than muffs and are easier to transport. Due to them plugging up just your ear canal, they do offer a tiny bit more decibel protection than compared to muffs. Some plugs even have an electronic option, basically a hearing aid that offers the benefit of protection as well. The biggest things with plugs is you have to be sure that they’re fitted correctly. If not, you won’t gain the full benefits that they offer. You will gain the largest sound reduction if the tip used with the plugs are made out of foam. The benefits of these is that they will eventually form to your ear, the downside is that they will eventually get worn and compressed.
Ear Muffs by Themselves
With how ear plugs fit into your ear, many find it uncomfortable or they won’t stay in their ears. Muffs offer a more standard and practical option for those who don’t want to jam something into their ear canal. Also, muffs have an obvious quick on/off capability that plugs do not have. Usually once plugs are in your ear, they’re in until you finish the job. Just like plugs, some come with an electronic option in order for you to boost the audio around you and block out the noise you don’t want. Muffs, like plugs have to fit perfectly as well, if not you will not have a perfect seal and you’ll inadvertently allow sound to come in. Generally, muffs will be more durable in the long run than plugs and are easier to allow friends to borrow. Who wants to get back hearing protection covered in earwax? Take the extra time to make sure that everything is fitted properly as well as they are actually comfortable on your head. You can have the best electronic muffs on the market, but if they don’t fit properly or they hurt when you wear them then it’s all null and void.
Both Plugs & Muffs
For the most extreme of circumstances, wearing both plugs and muffs can allow you the ability to conserve your hearing for the future. As stated previously, once the decibels in your immediate vicinity go over the 105 marks is where you may encounter issues. Also if shooting firearms indoors, it would be a good idea to use both due to the reverberation of the sound in confined spaces. Utilizing both earplugs and earmuffs can lower your chances of encountering any form of hearing damage. The reality is that even if you wear both, if either of them fit poorly, than you raise the chances of sound making its way in. Proper fit beyond everything else is key for the sustainment of your hearing. The best course of action in order to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success is to first get the plugs with the highest noise reduction rating. After that, any form of muffs that obviously fit your comfortably will suffice. The downside of wearing both is having a lack of general awareness of your workplace as well as general lack of communication.
Your hearing is something that you have only once and can easily fade away if the proper steps aren’t taken into consideration. How you go about those steps is completely up to you and how you live your life. Obviously your workplace and your job duties can impact your hearing, but as long as you’re playing offense than you and your hearing are in it for the long haul. Once hearing damage sets in, it is virtually irreversible. Beyond anything else, go get your hearing checked out by a verified professional to see if you have any form of hearing loss. Once the results are in, only then will you be able to truly determine the best course to follow.