We are all aware that the world we live in is one that is full of noise. We all experience noise through-out the day from our alarm clocks, our neighbours who play loud music, the busy streets and chugging rail tracks of our commute, the party events and concerts we attend to and even watching T.V. And if you work in an industrial factory, use electric tools at construction sites or ride motorcycles then the risk of hearing loss increase a lot because of the regular exposure to dangerous levels of noise.
The past few years have been great as people start to be more aware of the so-called noise pollution and many have been pushing forward for the conservation of their hearing. There have also been a lot of changes within the government’s recognition of noise as a workplace hazard.The biggest example of this is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA's) Noise standard (29 CFR 1910.95) that requires employers to have a hearing conservation program in place if workers are exposed to a time-weighted average (TWA) noise level of 85 dB or higher over an 8-hour work shift.
It’s a good thing we have the perfect tool to use to avoid getting exposed to dangerous levels of noise. They are called earplugs and they are commonly described as a device that is inserted in the ear canal to protect the user's ears from loud noises, intrusion of water, foreign bodies, dust or excessive wind… because even wind noise can make you lose your hearing.
There are mainly four types of earplug fittings for hearing protection. First one being foam earplugs, mainly made from memory foam, which are compressed and rolled then put into the ear canal, where they eventually expand to plug it. The second type is wax earplugs, which are rolled into a ball and carefully molded to fit over the external portion of the ear canal to plug it. The third one is flanged silicone earplugs, an example of Universal-fit earplugs that are commonly distinguished by their cone shape or sometimes called inverted pine tree shape. Lastly, the custom molded earplugs, made from a mold of the wearer's ear impressions and designed to precisely fit all ear canal shapes whether they are weird angled or too narrow for the other types of earplugs. Custom molded is further divided into laboratory-made and "on-site made" depending on where you order it.
As we all know, even great tools have flaws.
Foam ear plugs can expand too much if you wear it for a long time and if you have narrow ear canals they will probably make your ears red and swollen from the pressure. It can also cause ear infection as foam absorbs sweat and dirt.
Wax ear plugs are dirt and dust magnets. If you have dirty hands when you roll them into balls then it’s going to be an ear infection in the making.
Flanged silicone ear plugs can irritate your ears if you have weird angled ear canals. I believe you wouldn’t want a swollen ear. Been there, done that.
Custom molded ear plugs can get a loose fit over time and they are a bit pricier than the others.
I’ve said all the negatives but I still recommend using custom molded ear plugs and here are the reasons why:
Custommolded ear plugs are fitted for you and they are more comfortable to wear. If you didn’t know, the shape of your ear canals is as unique as your fingerprints. For sure, you wouldn’t like it if someone tries to charge your phone with a micro-USB charger when your phone’s charging port is for a USB-C charger. And with the concern of them eventually getting loose, manufacturers most of the time give a warranty for that.
Specific Noise Filtration
You can choose what noise level to filter depending on how and when you’ll use them. There are manufacturers that offer multiple noise filters from 9 dB to 32 dB cut. That most probably will help with whatever activity you plan to do.
Custom molded ear plugs are often more effective than standard ear plugs, but there's more to it than that. Foam ear plugs, for example are great at blocking sound but are uncomfortable as they expand in the ear canal, causing pressure and pushing their way out. Custom molded ear plugs exert no pressure and fit your ear canals perfectly. They should last longer than other types of ear plugs and have a lower cost-per-use, even though they are more expensive to buy in the first place.Custom ear plugs also tend to be non-porous making them more hygienic and less likely to cause ear infections.
I just hope I helped you even a bit and I didn’t waste your time reading this. I know that my basis for this is basically… my own opinion but I’ve done my research. I’ve tried all of them and this is what I came up to. I know it might work for me but might not work for you or vice-versa, but for me custom molded ear plugs are my hearing protection of choice and I highly recommend them!