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What is the Difference Between Earmuffs and Earplugs?

Woman with Earplugs

A lot of people underestimate the importance of wearing ear protection. We are all recommended to wear hearing protection if we are exposed to noise exceeding 85 decibels. This does not only relate to work activities but there are numerous hobbies that are loud too, from motorsports to clay pigeon shooting.

If you are currently looking for hearing protection, whether recommended by an audiologist or simply because you want to do the right thing and protect your long-term ear health, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the different products that are out there at the moment. Two of the main options you have at your disposal are earmuffs and earplugs. There are benefits and drawbacks associated with both when it comes to protecting your ears. So, let’s take a look at both options in more detail…

Earmuffs

Earmuffs are soft ear cushions, which are made using a material that attenuates sound. This form of ear protection fits perfectly around the ear. The depth of the dome and the material used can vary. A lot of people find earmuffs more comfortable, as they are not placed inside of the ear. They’re also a lot bigger, so you won’t lose them and in a work environment you can easily make sure everyone is wearing their ear protection. Of course, there are a number of drawbacks associated with ear muffs too. This includes the fact that they provide a lower level of noise protection when compared with earplugs. They may also interfere if you wear prescription or safety glasses. Aside from this, they are inconvenient for use in confined workspaces and uncomfortable if you work in a humid or hot environment. A lot of people actually wear both earmuffs and earplugs when they need full protection. So, what are earplugs?

Earplugs

Earplugs will be inserted inside your ear, with the purpose of blocking your ear canal. They can be moldable (foam earplugs) or premolded (preformed earplugs). You can also get both reusable and disposable earplugs too. When compared with earmuffs, they are the more cost-effective option of the two. There are some other advantages as well. They provide better ear protection, are more convenient in confined work areas, better in hot or humid work areas, and they can easily be teamed with other personal protective equipment. On the flip side, they are not suitable if you are prone to ear infections and they can be more difficult to see and monitor usage. They can take a bit of getting used to in terms of insertion and removal as well. If you are going to wear earplugs, good hygiene practices are a necessity to ensure you do not end up with an infection.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the key differences between earmuffs and earplugs. As you can see, there are pros and cons associated with both. It really depends on personal preference in terms of comfort, as well as the environment you are in.