Learn how these protective tools work to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
In honor of Save Your Hearing Day, we wanted to feature some of the many hearing protection gadgets that can help prevent hearing loss when enjoying your favorite activities, like listening to music or going to a movie. You can even use them when you encounter everyday noises, like a loud hair dryer or emergency vehicle sirens. Check out the following gadgets that can help preserve your hearing to see if they are right for you:
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Earplugs (regular or “smart”)
- ZEM hearing protectors
- Sound masking devices
Keep reading for more details about these hearing protection gadgets and tools below.
When you’re looking for a way to enjoy music and video, choose a noise-cancelling variety to help protect your hearing. By blocking outside noise, they enable you to listen at a safer volume, rather than turning it up to drown out the sounds around you. If you’re not actively listening to media, noise-cancelling headphones can also be used unconnected to block out sounds in loud areas.
Discover reviewer choices for the best noise-cancelling headphones for travel here.
Do you prefer earbuds over headphones? While there are noise-cancelling options available, use caution. Experts believe that because they go inside the ear canal, earbuds may have the potential to be harmful. If you choose to go this route, opt for the 60/60 rule: don’t exceed 60% of volume for more than 60 minutes.
Earplugs (Traditional or “Smart”)
When you’re looking to muffle sound in a loud situation like a concert or theater, or even on the job, traditional foam earplugs can do the trick (and they’re inexpensive!). Be sure to explore the variety of shapes and sizes to find one that fits you properly with a snug seal – and replace them once they get dirty or worn out. There are also more advanced acoustic filtering earplugs that reduce the volume of outside noises without sacrificing clarity of sound from manufacturers like Dubs and QuietOn.
Find out how to wear foam earplugs here or talk to your audiologist about a custom set that can fit your ear canal.
“Smart” earplugs are emerging hearing protection gadgets that are currently in the development stage. Controlled by a smartphone app, these wireless earplugs are designed to help protect your hearing and also have other benefits. They’re ideal for sleeping in a noisy place – or next to a snoring partner – because they can block out sounds and play soothing sounds to put you to sleep, then help you wake you up with your own quiet personal alarm.
Keep tabs on the product development progress of these “smart” hearing protection gadgets here.
Most commonly used for safety gear in loud professional environments, such as construction sites or manufacturing facilities, earmuffs are gadgets that can protect your hearing anywhere. They are inexpensive and straightforward for both children and adults to use, can fold for portability, and also fit behind-the-head or over-the-head.
ZEM Hearing Protectors
Named after its inventor, the Zwislocki Earmuffler, or ZEM, is a unique hearing protection gadget that redirects certain sounds away from the ears. Its patented sound chamber technology acts as an extension of your ear canal, with a snorkel-like tube outfitted with acoustic material. An advantage to these hearing protectors is that they allow the frequencies of voices through more easily than some headphones and earmuffs, so you can filter out background noise while still being able to understand people speaking nearby.
ZEMs are designed for use at work, sport shooting or hunting, or any other loud environment. These products have less bulk than traditional headphones and allow you to carry on conversations while wearing them.
Sound Masking Devices
Also known as “white noise,” sound masking devices work to generate a steady, low-volume background noise that can help mask distracting sounds. You can opt to use familiar noises already in your home for this purpose, such as an air conditioner or fan, or go for a device specifically designed to muffle sounds around you. Products like white noise machines that are made to mimic the sound of air whooshing by or more advanced sound masking devices that feature several sound-masking options, including noises found in nature, can offer soothing hearing protection.
These hearing protection gadgets are just some of the ways you can preserve your hearing in loud environments. Consider the features, cost, and benefits of each one, then find an option that suits your needs. Whichever device(s) you use, it’s important to bring any hearing loss concerns you may have to your doctor or audiologist. For more hearing loss-related articles, visit our blog today.
Check out the dos and don’ts in this visual guide to hearing protection tips here.