No chance for noise: suitable hearing protection

Loud music or screeching machines are a burden on the hearing. The effects of such noise should not be underestimated - permanent damage is possible

Noise is bad for the ears. They are damaged if they are exposed to loud volumes for too long. But even brief moments at extreme volumes can have lasting consequences. It is all the more important that you are aware of the effects of the noise and protect your ears from it. This is especially true in certain professions, but also in private life.

Music that is too loud damages the inner ear

A good example of everyday hearing torture is prolonged listening to music loudly. "If you overdo it, you do violence to your ears," says ENT doctor Michael Deeg from Freiburg. For the sake of your hearing, it is better not to turn up the music system or headphones on the smartphone too often.

After a concert or club visit, most people have probably already felt what permanent noise can do in the ear: namely, a brief hearing loss. This is shown by the fact that after leaving the club or the hall you can feel a noise and a feeling of numbness.

"This is a typical symptom of inner ear damage - then it only depends on the intensity, whether it is temporary or persistent," says Deeg. The risk also increases the more you expose your ear to such strain.

Noise deafness as an occupational disease

Loud noises are a problem in many professional fields, including the metal and wood industries. Noise deafness is one of the most commonly recognized occupational diseases in this country. According to Deeg, however, the numbers have been falling in recent years. This is thanks to education and prevention campaigns.

It becomes problematic from a continuous load above 85 decibels. This is a critical area of ​​observation, says Deeg. From a permanent 90 decibels and more, noise protection measures are necessary in the job - and the employees have to be examined regularly.

"90 decibels can be easily remembered as a limit value," says the ENT specialist. “If you are exposed to this over the long term, you have to expect damage to your ear.” This corresponds, for example, to the noise when you stand on a busy main road.

Overview of hearing protectors

Not every hearing protection is suitable for every purpose, as a brief comparison of three common variants shows:

Earplugs: You can buy them for just a few euros. For this they are not adapted to the ears. Depending on the intended use, there are still different models to choose from, for example for sleeping or for musicians, explains Marianne Frickel, President of the Federal Guild of Hearing Acousticians (biha). Depending on the design, different insulation curves can be achieved, explains the expert. These curves provide information about the frequency range in which the product seals best. She advises you to keep this point in mind when making your choice. One should keep in mind: Leaks can occur because they have not been adapted. This may reduce the insulation performance. In addition, due to the not perfectly adapted shape, pressure points and inflammation on the ears are possible.

Earmuffs: This encloses the auricles. It is partly equipped with a microphone in order to perceive ambient noise. Or with a radio link to communicate with others. Among other things, when working at the airport, trouble-free communication is very important with a view to safety, said Frickel. In comparison, earmuffs have better attenuation values ​​in the low-frequency range.

Individual hearing protection: It sits in the ear and is adapted to its shape. Because of this, it sits more securely than a simple earplug, especially when you are moving. This ensures more reliable noise protection. According to Frickel, the material can also be tailored to the needs of the individual. Depending on the intended use, you can use different filters with different attenuation values, but that comes at a price: According to the expert, you have to plan between around 70 and 110 euros for individually adapted hearing protection for both ears.

A cartoon mouse and hearing protection

If you are exposed to too much noise, you should protect your ears. It is important to note that hearing protection must always be appropriate for the area in which it is intended to protect. "You can't provide a concert musician with a Mickey Mouse, then he can no longer make music," says Deeg.

Mickey Mouse is the colloquial name for a capsule hearing protection with a bracket that surrounds the ears and has visual similarities to the ears of the comic mouse.

In fact, professional musicians practice with hearing protection in many cases because chamber concerts reach values ​​of around 90 decibels. The brass section in particular produces extreme volumes. Instead of a Mickey Mouse, the musicians wear in-ear soundproofing that is adjusted with a print.

Inside is an acoustic filter that can filter out certain peak levels with relative precision, explains Deeg. "You can hear a balanced sound, just a little quieter."

On the other hand, you can see a lot of Mickey mice on their heads on the construction site, at the airport or in industrial buildings. “They have a very high and non-linear insulation effect,” says Deeg. Perfect on the construction site when it comes to cutting through a piece of metal with the cutting disc.

In the case of brief noise, the possible damage depends on the exposure - extreme impulses such as a gunshot can cause hearing damage, which in the worst case is permanent, as the expert from the professional association of ENT doctors says. "Because the energy on the sensory cells in the inner ear is so great."

Earplugs for more rest in bed

Noise in the form of snoring life partners or railway lines passing by the window can also spoil everyday life. On the other hand, classic earplugs can help from the point of view of the ENT doctor. “These are all somehow softly shaped substances that you insert into your ear canal and that are formed by the body heat.” They are well suited for such purposes and reduce the snoring noises from the other side of the bed to a tolerable level.