Have you found yourself seeking out silence more in the last year? Maybe you’ve needed to block out distractions while trying to get some work done. Or maybe you’ve had more on your mind and have needed help getting a good night’s sleep. You may have turned to ear plugs as a simple solution to your everyday noise problems.
Ear plugs can offer more than solace, though. They can also provide important ear protection from damaging decibel levels (it’s more common than you might think), water, and pressure changes associated with air travel.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Hearing loss caused by exposure to damaging noise (known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL), affects about 40 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69, according to the CDC. Of those 40 million, about 53% report they are not exposed to loud noises at work. That means about half of the people with NIHL could be encountering damaging decibel levels in their everyday lives.
If you’re not concerned about your own risk of NIHL, consider this: about a quarter of adults in the U.S. who self-reported having “excellent” to “good” hearing were found to have measurable hearing damage. Because damage can occur over time, not just with one extreme exposure (like being too close to a firecracker), you might be causing irreparable harm to your hearing without even realizing it. The CDC reports that exposure to sounds above 120 decibels (such as standing near sirens) can immediately damage your ears, but long-term exposure to sounds at 70 decibels or above can damage your ears, too. That’s about the decibel range for a washing machine or dishwasher.
The amount of time it takes for a sound to cause damage depends on the decibel level (which measures intensity of sound, not necessarily how loud it sounds to you), so you would have to stand by your dishwasher for a very long time for it to cause damage. However, there are some common sounds we can encounter often enough to be concerned:
- Gas-powered lawnmowers can damage hearing after two hours of exposure.
- A motorcycle can damage hearing after 50 minutes of exposure.
- Loud sporting events, such as a football game, can lead to damage after only 15 minutes.
- Listening to a very loud radio, or loud venues such as nightclubs and concerts, can cause some hearing loss in as little as five minutes.
Protecting your hearing with ear plugs
There are many situations in which you might want to reduce the noise level, whether to protect your ears or to reduce distractions (like when you’re studying or sleeping). With so many options for ear plugs, how do you choose the right ones for your needs?
The first thing to look for is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). This is a measure of how much the ear plugs can reduce sound exposure, in decibels, when worn correctly. The NRR does not equal the number of decibels reduced exactly, but a higher NRR provides more sound protection than a lower NRR. It’s also important to find ear plugs that fit comfortably so that you can wear them correctly for the duration of the time you are looking to protect your ears.
Ear Plugs for Every Need
Flents has an extensive collection of ear plugs spanning noise reduction levels, materials, shapes/sizes, and quantities. Flents multi-use ear plugs are made both to protect your ears during loud activities (such as mowing the yard), and to block out unwanted sounds (like while studying). More specialized ear plugs are designed for optimal music enjoyment, shooting firearms, traveling, blocking out water in addition to sound, and sleeping.
Multi-use ear plugs
Flents offers multiple ear plug options to meet various NRR and comfort needs:
- Soft Foam Ear Plugs and Quiet Contour® Ear Plugs provide the highest level of protection (33 NRR), making them ideal for loud concerts, using loud machinery or lawn equipment, or simply ensuring a quiet environment. The bell-shaped design of both styles makes for a comfortable fit, and the bright orange color of the Soft Foam Ear Plugs makes them easy to find.
- Quiet Time® Soft Comfort Ear Plugs also provide 33 NRR protection. They feature a tapered fit that conforms to your ear.
- Protechs™ Quiet Time Ear Plugs provide exceptional noise reduction, with an NRR of 32. They are made of extra soft and extra light foam that tapers to your ear canal for a custom fit.
- Foam Ear Plugs are ideal for study, work, and sports, with a 31 NRR. They are also soft enough to use for sleep or travel.
- Quiet Quick® Foam Ear Plugs have a 30 NRR and are made of smooth, tapered foam for a comfortable fit.
- Quiet Please® Foam Ear Plugs are made of latex-free foam and have a shorter, cylindrical (vs. tapered) shape, which makes them more comfortable for side sleepers. They have a 29 NRR, offering protection at loud entertainment venues or while mowing the lawn, among other activities. (Also available in a 100-pair tub.)
- Wax-Cotton Ear Plug Stopples are made of soft wax cotton and have an NRR of 22.
Specialty ear plugs
Some ear plugs are designed with specific uses in mind. They can be used outside of these functions, but they may have special features that make them especially useful in certain situations.
- Music: Music – Noise Reducing Ear Plugs have an 18 NRR to reduce the discomfort from loud impact music while still allowing safe listening. For louder environments, Protechs™ Ear Plugs for Music offer 27 NRR – enough to bring a 100-decibel concert to 73. This option is also reusable and features an air bubble in the tip for extra cushioned comfort.
- Shooting firearms: Flents offers a few specialty shooter’s ear plugs designed to reduce loud impulse noises while allowing you to hear conversation and game. The Acu-Life® Shooter's Aid Ear Plugs have an 18 NRR to allow low-level sounds that are not harmful to hearing to pass through and reach your ear canals. They are reusable and made with soft silicone cushion for maximum comfort. For stronger protection against the damaging sound of a gunshot, Protechs™ Ear Plugs for Sport provide a 33 NRR. These are also ideal for activities such as motorcycling and auto racing, which can also cause permanent hearing damage in a shorter amount of time.
- Working with machinery: Protechs™ Ear Plugs for Work have a 33 NRR, making them ideal for working with loud machinery or lawn equipment. Their tapered shape makes them easy to insert and remove as needed.
- Travel: There are a few reasons to want ear plugs while traveling. The most obvious is to block out distracting sounds that can make it hard to sleep, read, or enjoy other travel-friendly activities. Beyond privacy, however, ear plugs can also restrict air flow to your ears to reduce pain many travelers experience in airplanes. They can also minimize the loud, ongoing roar of jet engines. Protechs™ Ear Plugs for Travel provide a 24 NRR for reduced noise, a triple flange design for long-lasting comfort, and a unique Flip to Listen feature that allows you to flip the ear plugs open to hear without having to remove them (perfect for when the snack cart rolls through mid-chapter!).
Sleep ear plugs
We’ve covered before how ear plugs can help create a sleep-friendly environment to improve your quality of sleep. While any Flents ear plugs can help you get a restful night’s sleep, a few options are specially designed as sleep ear plugs for maximum comfort.
- Flents® Super Sleep Kit comes with 70 pairs of Soft Foam Ear Plugs designed to be easily compressed and inserted into the ear. These ear plugs comfortably conform to your ear canal and offer a 29 NRR. The kit also includes three Sleep Masks to block out light as well.
- Protechs™ Sleep Ear Plugs are contoured to follow the shape of the ear canal, reducing pressure at the smallest diameter of the ear plug. They have a 28 NRR.
- Super Sleep® Ear Plugs feature a shorter design that’s ideal for side sleepers and provide a 29 NRR for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Ear plugs for blocking out water
Noise isn’t the only potential detriment to your ears. Water – from swimming, showering, or water sports – can get stuck in the ear canal and lead to ear infections.
- The Protechs™ Ear Plugs for Swim conform to your ears to block out water and protect you from clogging, swimmer’s ear, and ear infections. They also have a 21 NRR to soften the sounds of a crowded pool to a more comfortable decibel level.
- Another option that can seal out water is the Comfort Fit Earplugs, which boast an NRR of 27. These can be used as regular, multi-use ear plugs but are also useful when swimming or showering.
Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet to study or sleep, you’re trying to keep water out of your ear canal, or you want to protect your hearing, Flents has your ear plug needs covered!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Too Loud! For Too Long! Loud noises damage hearing
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What Noises Cause Hearing Loss?https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html#:~:text=Sound%20is%20measured%20in%20decibels,immediate%20harm%20to%20your%20ears.
Healthline: 12 Ways to Get Water Out of Your Ear