First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Hearing Protectors
Being exposed to loud noises can result in hearing loss. As the loudness of a sound increases, the amount of time you can safely listen to the sound decreases. One way to protect your hearing is to wear hearing protectors, which reduce the loudness of the sound.
Hearing protectors are especially important for those who work in harmful noise situations every day. Harmful noise is any sound over 85 decibels. The noise found in the construction industry and in machine shops is often at this volume. Wearing hearing protectors increases the amount of time you can safely work in these types of situations.
The two main types of hearing protectors are earplugs and earmuffs.
You can reduce sound by up to 30 decibels (dB) when you wear well-fitted hearing protectors. They are most effective at reducing your total noise exposure and preventing damage to your hearing when you wear them continuously throughout the period of noise exposure. For example, if you work 8 hours a day in an environment with a harmful noise level (85 dB or more), wear your hearing protection 8 hours a day.
Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of all sounds. Although there has been some concern that hearing protectors may make it more difficult to hear important sounds, such as voices or machine sounds, you are generally able to adjust to the quieter sound level without any problems hearing what you need to hear.
People who already have hearing loss may find it harder to understand speech when they are wearing hearing earplugs or earmuffs. But wearing proper protection can help prevent more hearing loss.
For more information on the workplace and hearing loss, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has mandated hearing protection for people who are exposed to certain noise levels at work. You can contact OSHA with questions on workplace safety and health, including hearing loss, at 1-800-321-6742, or find information at www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/index.html.
Current as of:
December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineCharles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology
Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Charles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.