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Harry Burridge

Commercial Audiologist

The best ways to protect your hearing

Posted on 2023-07-21 09:52:00 in General

How do you protect your hearing? Your hearing could be at risk from a number of hearing environments and the longer you expose yourself to these environments, the more at risk you could be. Read our advice on protecting your hearing.

What is hearing protection?

How do you protect your hearing? Your hearing can be damaged from many different sources. Noise damage is one of the most common ones. If you are exposed to environments louder than 85dB regularly, you may be at risk of damaging your hearing permanently, the longer you are in these environments. 85dB is the equivalent to a food blender being on next to you. It is important to wear hearing protection in these environments to lower the risk of damage to your hearing.
Sometimes you might need to protect your ears from non-harmful noises or sensations. A partner snoring or to stop water getting in your ears when swimming. Hearing protection can help with your comfort in these situations.

Off-the Shelf Hearing Protection. Is it any good?

Many shops sell hearing protection that is non custom, some are squishy plugs that you push into your ear. Others are more specialist and have different filters for unique situations. There are many products on the market that can offer a good level of hearing protection, but….
Because the protection is not custom for your needs, there is a risk that these off-the shelf measures may not protect you fully in noisy environments. If you opt for off-the-shelf hearing protection, always consult a hearing care professional to check if they are suitable for your needs. Just be aware that the protection will not be as good as a custom product that is made specially for your ear. But, if for whatever reason you cannot wear a custom product. Some protection is better than nothing. You can purchase off-the-shelf hearing protection from our Chime Hearing Centre in Exeter and ask us for our recommendations.

Custom hearing protection

Custom hearing protection usually involves your hearing care professional taking an impression of your ear to get the shape and size of the features of your ear. From there, it is scanned to allow the manufacturer to make the hearing protection for your specific needs.

Can I use my Custom Ear Plugs for everything?

The short answer is no. Different types of hearing protection will have different features that make them suitable for a listening environment. It wouldn’t do you much good to take your Swim Plugs to a music concert. Below I have explained some of the features that are present in different types of hearing protection.

Industrial Noise

Plugs for industrial noises tend to be a bit more standard with less features. The plugs will be made of a hard-wearing acrylic or silicone material and will reduce the overall level of noise dependent on the level of noise. Your workplace should have a health and safety officer who has records of how loud your work environment is. That would then determine how much protection the plug would need to provide i.e., if your workplace is 95dB, having a plug that reduces the overall noise by 20dB would be suitable.


The main feature of music plugs tends to be attenuated filters. What this means is that the overall level of noise is reduced to a safe level, but you are still able to hear the music nice and clearly. This tends to be a good option for musicians and regular concert goers. Some music plugs can interface with your instruments or music set-up also allowing you to manage the levels of what you are hearing.


Shooting noise often comes in short, sharp bursts that can damage your hearing over a shorter period. Shooting plugs can be passive, meaning that it is just an acrylic plug that has no technology to enhance the protection further. They can also be active, which means that the plugs will have technology that will recognise when a noise is happening and increase the level of protection compared to the normal level when you are chatting in between shots. This tends to allow you to communicate better in between rounds.


Whilst there is no immediate danger for most people from swimming, it can be unpleasant to have water trapped in your ear from swimming and it can lead to infection if it does not clear. This is where swim plugs come in. They are made from a buoyant acrylic that seals the ear canal to prevent water getting in your ear. Additionally, if they come out, they float which make you less likely to lose them.

Sleep plugs

Having trouble sleeping due to noise, sleep plugs would be the most suitable for this. They are not protecting your hearing in the same way an industrial plug might, but they reduce the sound level to help block out the noise of snoring or ambient noise in your bedroom. They are made from a softer material that is more comfortable to wear when you are sleeping.

If you are interested in getting hearing protection, we offer this as a service at our Chime Hearing Centre in Exeter. Call to make an appointment with one of our hearing specialists on 01392 953060.

Our hearing care professionals can discuss your needs and advise you on appropriate protection. The list above in not extensive in what we offer, just the most common types we do. If you have other needs from hearing protection, we would like to hear from you. You can also complete our contact form to ask for advice.

The best ways to protect your hearing