Top 5 Uses for Ear Plugs

Got ear plugs? We've got a tip. Use them for more than just your next loud concert

Learn the many uses for ear plugs

Most people don’t think about ear plugs until they need them for one reason or another. In that case, they have a specific purpose in mind and can guide their decisions accordingly. However, there are a few reasons to be curious about the topics. For instance, you could be shopping for the perfect gift for a loved one. On the other hand, maybe you have received a pair of ear plugs as a gift — not the most exciting option — you may be at a loss as to what you can do with your new present. Of course, you may just be curious. Whatever your reasons, here are five uses for earplugs- and a few helpful tips on choosing the right kind for each endeavor.

1. Swimming: Plenty of swimmers use earplugs to prevent swimmer’s ear, which can be really annoying. If you are an experienced swimmer and have complained about water getting into your ear, you may have received ear plugs specifically designed for protecting your ears while swimming. However, not all ear plugs are made equal, so it is always important to read the label in order to discern whether the ear plugs are meant for swimming or for soundproofing. As you read the label, it is also important to check whether the ear plugs are one-time or multi-use. One-time use ear plugs need to be thrown away after use, while the reusables can be worn again after cleaning.

2. Concerts: Another common use of earplugs is sound protection. According to the American Hearing Association, exposing yourself to noise that is above 85 dB for a prolonged period of time can cause permanent damage to your hearing. A rock concert is around clocks at about 150dB so it’s important to use the correct type of earplugs. If you have a specific event in mind, it also helps to look at the NRR or noise reduction rating of your earplugs. You can convert the NRR into decibels using the formula (x-7)/2 where x is your NRR rating. You can also work backward by multiplying the expected noise level in decibels by two and adding seven- this will give you the target minimum NRR rating for your earplugs.

3.Loud Household and Work Tasks: You don’t have to love rock music to encounter high noise levels. In fact, there are plenty of loud household tasks where ear plugs can be useful. For instance, a typical lawn mower emits 100dB of sound, which means that prolonged exposure to the sound can be damaging.

If you happen to be sensitive to certain sounds at home or at work, ear plugs are also helpful to dampen the noise and decrease your irritation. Some common sounds that can make people uncomfortable include drills, blenders, industrial vacuum cleaners, and leaf blowers.

4. Studying: While some people study better with background noise, others need quiet in order to absorb information. If you happen to be the type of person who is easily distracted, a pair of ear plugs may be able to help keep you on track. To get the ideal ear plugs, figure out where you’ll be studying— be it a coffee shop or a school library, and figure out the typical noise levels. Once you have a target, you can look for the appropriate NRR rating. Keep in mind, that if you are studying somewhere public, you may want to go a little lower than the typical noise so that you can still hear a waiter inform you that you have a coffee order.

5. Sleeping and Meditation: Whether you are meditating or trying to get some sleep, a pair of ear plugs can be handy. Maybe you are a busy mom trying to find some me-time while the kids play in the other room or are squeezing in some self-care during a work break. Maybe you live one a busy street or are hoping to nap on your flight. Whatever your situation, ear plugs can help you tune out the outside noise and tune in with your inner self. A note of caution, however, if you are in public, it is always helpful to leave a bit of outside noise so that you can remain aware of your surroundings. After all, you don’t want to miss your alarm clock or get startled by a well-meaning friend during your relaxation time.

In no time at all, you'll likely discover the many benefits and uses of a pair of ear plugs.

Resources— Center for Disease ControlAmerican Hearing Research FoundationYour Swim Book