Earplugs can certainly help prevent hearing loss, and no, not all earplugs distort sound quality. For example, Original Downbeats Earplugs or Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs are just two of the many earplugs on the market now which are designed specifically to reduce hearing loss caused by excessively loud or consistent noise, without distorting sound quality.
We live in a noisy world, and there is no denying that. In both our work lives and private lives, we are exposed to noise levels that can seriously affect our hearing. And that’s why earplugs were invented; to prevent the devastating effects of loud, damaging noise.
Why We Use Earplugs
We use earplugs to not only reduce sound as it enters our ears, but also to prevent new hearing loss. While earplugs don’t entirely eliminate sound, a well-fitting earplug is capable of reducing sound by between 15 and 30 dB. If our ears are constantly exposed to loud noises, the inner ear nerve endings become damaged, and sometimes even killed. If the nerve endings die, the tragic result is permanent loss of hearing.
You may not be aware that just one single exposure to extremely loud noise can result in hearing loss to some degree, which well-fitting earplugs could have prevented. Unfortunately, hearing loss is not the only result of these types of loud noises. People may also experience a frustrating and annoying condition known as tinnitus. And the list of consequences goes on, with noise also causing heightened adrenaline and stress levels. The exposure to anxiety and stress on an ongoing basis can cause a number of health problems, like heart disease and elevated blood pressure. Sleep deprivation is another problem, which in itself can lead to immunosuppression and an elevated pulse. The use of simple earphones can even prevent minor health issues, like an upset stomach.
The History of Earplugs
The earplug has been around for a long time and is a simple and inexpensive solution to an age-old problem. Earplugs in ancient times would probably have been formed out of clay or wax, but the earplugs we know today were not developed until the mid-20th century. Ray and Cecelia Benner invented the silicone earplug in 1962, and this earplug was specifically designed for swimmers to stop water entering the ear canal, and possibly causing an infection. Ross Gardner invented the first foam earplugs 10 years later, saying the idea came to him from the foam lining in headphones.
The design and function of foam earplugs has basically stayed the same since that time, but the problem is that people are just not wearing them. Statistics supplied by the Hearing Industries Association show that noise-induced hearing damage and hearing loss is becoming much more widespread, with over 6 million people aged between 18 and 44 experiencing some form of hearing loss. In the United States, hearing loss is the third most common illness, following arthritis and heart disease. Sadly, a large portion of that hearing loss could have been avoided. These numbers are worrying, and awareness must be raised for this problem, with workable solutions being offered.
How Does Hearing Loss Occur?
When the hair cells inside our ears are permanently damaged, that’s when we experience hearing loss. This damage is caused by listening to loud noises for long periods of time. Sadly, when permanent damage is done to hearing loss, this can’t be undone, and while researchers are working to find a cure to resolve this, no cure is available today.
At What Level Is Noise Damaging to Our Hearing?
Noise exceeding 85 dB will damage your hearing; which is typically the noise level of a food processor or hairdryer. Music played at a concert will reach around 125 dB, which far exceeds the recommended limit.
What’s New in Earplugs?
Original DownBeats Earplugs hit the market last year are innovatively designed so they don’t protrude from the ear, which can be embarrassing for some people to wear at sport events, nightclubs, and so on. These were designed to be fashionable, yet not interfere with the listening experience. And, they had to have an affordable price-tag. Original DownBeats Earplugs can be purchased today for £15.99 a pair.
How Do Downbeats Acoustic Filters Work?
Traditional earplugs sacrifice sound quality, often producing a muffled sound. Engineers of the Dubs Acoustic Filters were able to reduce the volume, without altering the sound quality, by developing an innovative series of high-and-low-pass filters. Resting gently inside your ear, these earplugs essentially work as a volume control.
As you can see, this invention has moved us from inexpensive (and often ill-fitting) foam earplugs to mechanical ear filters. Perhaps now that hearing prevention can look very ‘cool’, more people will consider protecting their precious hearing.