Studies show that hearing loss can affect anyone at any age, regardless of his/her background or occupation.  According to the CDC, Impairments in hearing can happen in either frequency or intensity, or both. Hearing loss severity is based on how well a person can hear the frequencies or intensities most often associated with speech. Severity can be described as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. The term "deaf" is sometimes used to describe someone who has an approximately 90 dB or greater hearing loss or who cannot use hearing to process speech and language information, even with the use of hearing aids. The term "hard of hearing" is sometimes used to describe people who have a less severe hearing loss than deafness.

Intensity, or loudness, is measured in decibels (dB). A person with hearing within the normal range can hear sounds ranging from 0 to 140 dB. A whisper is around 30 dB. Conversations are usually 45 to 50 dB. Sounds that are louder than 90 dB can be uncomfortable to hear. A loud rock concert might be as loud as 110 dB. Sounds that are 120 dB or louder can be painful and can result in temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Hearing loss can affect one or both ears. A loss that affects one ear is called a unilateral loss. A loss that affects both ears is called a bilateral loss.

There are four main types of hearing loss:

-     Conductive: Hearing loss caused by a problem in the outer ear or middle ear. Conductive losses usually affect all frequencies to the same degree. These losses are not usually severe.

-     Sensorineural: Hearing loss caused by a problem in the inner ear or auditory nerve. A sensorineural loss often affects a person’s ability to hear some frequencies more than others. This means that sounds may be appear distorted, even with the use of a hearing aid. Sensorineural losses can range from mild to profound.

-     Mixed: A combination of conductive and sensorineural losses.

-     Central: Hearing loss caused by a problem along the pathway from the inner ear to the auditory region of the brain or in the brain itself.

Reference: CDC website 

One-third of hearing loss is preventable by wearing hearing protection. There are many ways to prevent hearing loss from overtaking your life. Knowledge is key to understanding hearing loss and preventing it. Here are some helpful tips to prevent a noise-induced hearing loss from occurring or getting worse.

- Wear earplugs/ear muffs when exposed to noisy activities for any given time period. People who operate equipment such as mowers, heavy equipment, chainsaws should wear earplugs/muffs. These devices are usually found at a local pharmacy or general store.

- Do not listen to radios or televisions at a loud level.

- Listening to pc, telephones, etc at a loud level can encourage or induce the effect hearing loss.

Which protective device is right for you? Expandable foam plugs These plugs are made of a formable material designed to expand and conform to the shape of each person's ear canal. Roll the expandable plugs into a thin, crease-free cylinder. Whether you roll plugs with thumb and fingers or across your palm doesn't matter.

What's critical is the final result—a smooth tube thin enough so that about half the length will fit easily into your ear canal. Some individuals, especially women with small ear canals, have difficulty rolling typical plugs small enough to make them fit. A few manufacturers now offer a small size expandable plug. Pre-molded, reusable plugs Pre-molded plugs are made from silicone, plastic or rubber and are manufactured as either “one-size-fits-most” or are available in several sizes. Many pre-molded plugs are available in sizes for small, medium or large ear canals. A critical tip about pre-molded plugs is that a person may need a different size plug for each ear. The plugs should seal the ear canal without being uncomfortable. This takes trial and error of the various sizes. Directions for fitting each model of pre-molded plug may differ slightly depending on how many flanges they have and how the tip is shaped. Insert this type of plug by reaching over your head with one hand to pull up on your ear. Then use your other hand to insert the plug with a gentle rocking motion until you have sealed the ear canal. Advantages of pre-molded plugs are that they are relatively inexpensive, reusable, washable, convenient to carry, and come in a variety of sizes.

Nearly everyone can find a plug that will be comfortable and effective. In dirty or dusty environments, you don't need to handle or roll the tips. Canal caps Canal caps often resemble earplugs on a flexible plastic or metal band. The earplug tips of a canal cap may be a formable or pre-molded material. Some have headbands that can be worn over the head, behind the neck or under the chin. Newer models have jointed bands increasing the ability to properly seal the earplug. The main advantage canal caps offer is convenience.

When it's quiet, employees can leave the band hanging around their necks. They can quickly insert the plug tips when hazardous noise starts again. Some people find the pressure from the bands uncomfortable. Not all canal caps have tips that adequately block all types of noise. Generally, the canal caps tips that resemble stand-alone earplugs seem to block the most noise. Earmuffs Earmuffs come in many models designed to fit most people. They work to block out noise by completely covering the outer ear. Muffs can be "low profile" with small ear cups or large to hold extra materials for use in extreme noise. Some muffs also include electronic components to help users communicate or to block impulsive noises. Workers who have heavy beards or sideburns or who wear glasses may find it difficult to get good protection from earmuffs.

The hair and the temples of the glasses break the seal that the earmuff cushions make around the ear. For these workers, earplugs are best. Other potential drawbacks of earmuffs are that some people feel they can be hot and heavy in some environments.

Reference: Choose The Hearing Protection That's Right For You - by Carol Merry Stephenson, Ph.D. noise/abouthlp/chooseprotection. html





Home | Hearing Plan | Hearing Loss | Providers | Products | Mission | About Us

© 2000-2007 - All Rights Reserved. is an association of independent,
locally operated Hearing Plans. Site Design & Hosting by Innersight dZine Studio