Custom Earplugs for the Win
If you could easily prevent depression, anxiety and cognitive decline, would you? Of course you would. These are all common side effects of untreated hearing loss. While many individuals in Katy, Texas suffer from hearing loss they could do nothing to prevent, noise-induced hearing loss is a different story.
Caused by exposure to loud sounds, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented with the use of earplugs. In a pinch, earplugs can be purchased at any Katy drug store. If you often put yourself into a precarious listening environment, I’m looking right at you musicians and hunters, then custom earplugs are exactly what you need.
Custom earmolds are made from impressions of your ear canal and concha (the outer bowl-shaped portion of your ear). They adhere perfectly to the contours of your ears, providing a superior fit and protection.
Types of Earmolds
Earmolds are typically made from one of three materials: acrylic, vinyl or silicone.
- Acrylic molds have been around the longest. Hard and durable, they are resistant to shrinking and breakage, and are the easiest to repair or re-mold. Acrylic molds are simple to insert and remove and easily cleaned using mild detergents. Their biggest disadvantage is their lack of flexibility. They can be difficult to place into narrow or small ear canals, especially those of children. Acrylic molds are also prone to sound leakage and feedback, particularly when the jaw is in motion (e.g., chewing).
- Vinyl molds are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and fall in the middle in terms of hardness. They are softer than acrylic molds, making them a better choice for children and older individuals as they are fairly easy to insert. A better seal translates to clearer sound for high-gain musical instruments. On the down side, vinyl molds tend to shrink, harden and discolor over time; they also need to be replaced more often. Because of the manufacturing process, which involves boiling in a saline solution, vinyl molds are not recommended for people with allergies.
- Silicone molds are the softest of all varieties. They are extremely flexible and comfortable, provide a tight seal for excellent sound quality and protection and are very durable. They maintain their shape and size over time and are available in a variety of bright colors and designs, as well as flesh-colored tones. Their flexibility and softness can also have disadvantages; silicone molds are difficult to insert, especially when new, and are a poor choice for individuals with soft or flaccid ears.
Next we have activity-specific hearing protection.
- Swimmer’s earplugs are designed to keep water from entering the ear canal. Water often contains bacteria, which can lead to an ear infection called swimmer’s ear. These earplugs are waterproof and buoyant, in case they fall out of the ear while swimming they can be easily retrieved.
- Hunter’s earplugs are able to block out the dangerously loud sounds, such as a gunshot, from entering the ear. They are also designed to let safe sounds in, enabling the hunter to remain aware of their surroundings.
- Musician’s earplugs can be used by those attending the concert or by those playing in the band. These earplugs are designed to reduce sound levels evenly. This ensures the integrity of the music stays intact; music and speech sound clear but the dangerously loud sounds are prevented from entering the ear.
Contact the best audiologist in Katy, Texas at (281) 578-7500 for more information on the type of custom earplug that’s right for you.