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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

85 decibels. That’s the sound level at which repeated exposure can lead to severe hearing damage.

100 decibels. that is the sound level hit by a rock show, which is not-so-good news for musicians or concert goers.

It’s also a portion of a greater problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as much as 30 million people in the U.S. are subjected to to unsafe sound levels, representing one of the major occupational dangers over the previous 25 years.

And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with typical work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting show 105, and a jet plane takeoff 150. music players, manufacturing plant workers, construction workers, airport personnel, emergency personnel, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of developing significant hearing loss and tinnitus.

Occupational hearing loss impacts countless numbers

Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows all too well about the occupational hazards of sound. Twigg worked on checking and fixing law enforcement car sirens — which range between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.

After retirement, Twigg began to suffer severe tinnitus in addition to considerable hearing loss that required the use of hearing aids. Having failed to adopt the preventative methods that would decrease the sound levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would obtain a considerable settlement.

This is a experience that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 only there were 21,000 incidents of work-related hearing loss documented.

How to protect your ears at work

So here’s the problem: the world requires musicians, craftsmen, and emergency and construction staff, but you can’t really make power saws and police sirens any quieter.

The solution? decrease the intensity of noise that makes its way into your ear. Simple, right? Well…not so fast.

You could simply drive to the nearby store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much better alternative.

The optimum alternative requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing consultant can individualize specifically to you, your profession, and your requirements.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are considerably better than the off-the-shelf foam variety

Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are far superior to foam ear plugs.

1. maintenance of sound quality

Normal foam ear plugs mute speech and music. By reducing noise primarily in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also diminish sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the prevention of hearing injury.

Custom-fit ear plugs will decrease sound more consistently across frequencies while limiting sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the organic quality of speech and music.

2. prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”

With foam ear plugs, the user will hear a hollowed out or boomy sound in their voice when talking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This irritating sound is referred as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, producing a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.

3. cost & convenience

Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, normally at a price of well under $100.

Let’s do some math on the disposable foam plugs: $3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair  $0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60

With custom-fit ear plugs, you will certainly save money in the long run and will prevent all of those trips to the store. No one likes picking out ear plugs, so while the first visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save yourself time.

4. protecting the environment

Throw-away ear plugs generate a lot of waste: 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out every year.

Schedule an appointment and protect your ears

The advantages of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.

If you work in a profession that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you attend rowdy concerts or sporting events, schedule an consultation with a hearing expert today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also maintain the high quality of sound.