Earplugs offer excellent protection from potential hearing loss. Because ears vary in size and shape, the most effective earplugs will be custom made from molds of your ears. We offer a variety of custom earplugs designed specifically for different activities.
Swimmers and those who participate in frequent water activities are at risk for developing a painful, itchy ear infection known as swimmer’s ear (otitis externa). These infections can also lead to a thickening of the bone and narrowed ear canals, a condition known as surfer’s ear(exostosis). Left untreated, both conditions could eventually cause hearing loss.
Keeping the ears dry is key to preventing ear infections that can cause problems. The best way to accomplish this is by wearing specially designed swimmer’s earplugs.
Swimmer’s plugs protect the ears by preventing water from entering the ear canals. They are made of a waterproof silicone that blocks the opening of the ear canal, providing a tight seal that keeps out water. Swimmer’s plugs are great for swimmers, surfers, rafters and snorkelers, and can be used to keep the ears dry when showering or bathing, as well.
Hunters, law enforcement officials and gun enthusiasts are at risk for hearing loss every time they squeeze their triggers. A single gunshot can cause permanent, irreversible hearing loss. The typical decibel rating is 140 dB – louder than a jet engine (120 dB).
Specially designed hunter’s earplugs utilize acoustic filters that amplify ambient noise, allowing the user to hear his or her surroundings better; when the weapon is fired, these filters soften the sound to protect hearing. They include a valve that closes automatically when struck by a sound wave, limiting the volume that reaches the ear.
Hunter’s plugs are available in styles that fit in the ear or behind the ear.
Musicians are especially susceptible to hearing loss because of their constant exposure to music that often exceeds safe decibel levels. To protect their hearing, they need earplugs that limit the amount of damaging noise, but still allow them to hear music that is clear and natural sounding. That’s where musician’s plugs come in.
Regular earplugs cause distortion and muffled speech by reducing higher frequency sounds. High-fidelity musician’s plugs reduce all sounds evenly while maintaining quality, so that music and speech is as close to the original as possible. They include a number of interchangeable attenuators, filters that offer varying levels of sound protection depending on the type of instrument used and the venue played.
Musicians and frequent concert attendees come into extended contact with loud sounds on a regular basis, increasing their odds of developing hearing loss. Music can reach 115 dB levels or higher, a rating that can be damaging to hearing after only 15 minutes of exposure.
The solution is musician monitors, in-ear musician’s earplugs designed to provide noise reduction without affecting the clarity of music or speech. Standard earplugs reduce sounds in the higher range of frequencies, leading to distortion and muffled speech. Hi-fidelity musician monitors reduce sounds evenly, providing clear and natural-sounding music and speech.
They take the place of traditional loudspeaker monitoring systems, which tend to be oversized and loud, increasing the noise level onstage.
Custom Earbuds for Headphones or Listening Devices
Earbuds are ubiquitous nowadays, but the ones that come standard with an iPod don’t always stay in place well, particularly when the user is engaged in physical activity. Despite their “one size fits all” claim, in reality they tend to fall out of your ears easily.
Custom earbuds designed for iPods solve this problem by fitting the unique contours of your ear canals. They are made from a custom earmold created from impressions of your ears, and offer a tight seal and perfect fit. Their custom design ensures they remain in place even during moderate to vigorous activity, and the snug fit translates to better sound quality and less distracting external noise.
Custom Sleep Plugs
Sleep deprivations has a number of negative side effects, including memory problems, increased stress, chronic fatigue, irritability, weight gain and impaired problem solving. For many, the barrier to getting a good night’s sleep is noise disturbance. This can come from a variety of sources, such as city traffic, the snoring of a partner or the barking of a neighbor’s dog.
Sleep plugs can be used to drown out ambient noise, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep. They are ideal for blocking out obnoxious sounds that keep you from feeling rested, while allowing you to hear important sounds like the fire alarm. Custom molds provide superior comfort.
What Are Sleep Plugs Made Of?
Custom earmolds are generally made from one of three materials: acrylic, vinyl or silicone. Each has their pros and cons.
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., grinding one’s teeth).
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 are fairly easy to insert.
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.
There are also disadvantages to their flexibility and softness; silicone molds are difficult to insert, especially when new, and are a poor choice for individuals with soft or flaccid ears.
Call Audiology Center Northwest at (503) 232-1845 for more information or to schedule an appointment.