26 million Americans — including men, women and children of all ages — suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), according to the U.S. (NIH). NIHL is a result of exposure to dangerous noise levels of 85 decibels and up, and can be temporary or permanent. For example, continuous loud sounds including city traffic are about this decibel level, and motorcycles, guns and fireworks can be over 120 dB. Thankfully, there are many types of hearing protection devices sold at your local sports or hardware store to accommodate the diverse sound levels in a variety of situations.

Noise reduction rating system

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the US standard rating system for the level of protection provided by a specific device.NRR is based on a decibel scale of 0 to 33 with the level of protection increasing with the number of the rating.

Comparing Earplugs and Earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs are designed to cover the full outer ear with a cushiony insulating material, and, although look similar to regular earmuffs, they are quite different. Some earmuff models are designed for use around sudden and infrequent loud noises, such as gunshots. Others offer 2-way communication for people on dangerous worksites. Still more even offer radio reception, ideal for doing noisy yardwork.

Electronic earplugs

Electronic earplugs are placed inside the ear and provide variable protection, which means the level of protection rises and falls depending upon external noises. They can adjust very quickly to safeguard the user against unexpected loud noises like and exploding firework or gunshot. Some types of earplugs can even help you hear better by letting lower decibel sounds like people speaking to pass through clearly while still obstructing the louder sounds. Electronic earplugs might be especially useful in situations where earmuffs could be too bulky and awkward.