There are hundreds of different ear plugs available on the market, from simple foam versions that cost a few pennies and muffle all sounds in the vicinity, to sophisticated battery-operated ear plugs that have filters which can open and close in milliseconds when they detect high decibels and cost hundreds of pounds. Specialist makers provide ear plugs for swimmers, to prevent water entering the ear canal during pool sessions. There are ear plugs for musicians, rally drivers and children.
‘At the moment, too few people wear ear plugs when they really should to protect their vulnerable ears. Health and safety legislation means that it is a legal obligation for employers to provide hearing protection in certain circumstances, but many people still choose not to wear them,’ says Louise Hart, senior audiologist at the charity, Action on Hearing Loss. ‘If you don’t wear ear plugs when you are in a noisy environment, you could end up with long-term hearing damage.’
Here we look at a range of ear plugs that have got a thumbs up from Action on Hearing Loss and online reviewers.
Alpine FlyFit ear plugs – £10.99
Helps to prevent your ears popping by slowing the pressure changes, using a filter, in your ears during take-off and landing. They contain acoustic filters that reduce excessive noise while still allowing you to talk to passengers and flight attendants.
By regulating movement of air out of the ear during takeoff and into the ear during descent, these reduce painful effects of changing air pressure. Suitable for people from age 12 through to adults.
EarPeace HD Noise cancelling earplugs – £14.99
Virtually invisible and made out of soft silicon, these ear plugs filter out background noise and are designed to protect hearing at concerts, nightclubs or loud sporting events.
Comes in various skin-tone colours and reusable.
Alpine PartyPlug 2015 ear plugs – £11.84
Designed for concert-goers, clubbers and festival fans who cannot control the volume of music. Small and inconspicuous, these double-flanged (two tongued construction) are designed to stay securely in the ear. They contain a filter which reduces ambient noise so that conversations remain clearly audible. Come in silver, black or white. No silicone. Reusable.
BioFUSE Aquatic Earplugs – £6.00
These earplugs resemble little blue Christmas trees, which the makers say are ‘multiple flange construction’ so they stay in place in the ear. They have a seal which stops water entering the ear canal. Reusable with their own case. ‘Ideal for people with grommets in the ear drum, who are more prone to infection, people with perforated ear drums or those who often get ear infections when water gets into their ears,’ says Louise Hart, senior audiologist at Action on Hearing Loss UK. According to one online review, these did ‘everything I wanted for very good value, don’t even know there in once you get going with your swim.’ Reusable.
Defender Pro – Custom-fit electronic earplugs for shooting. £595 per pair including a consultation with a qualified audiologist.
They contain digital circuitry which monitors the sound level coming in through the microphone and automatically blocks out sudden loud sounds (gunshots) protecting your hearing from damage.
‘The mechanics of the ear plugs allow you to be able to hear the environmental sounds and speech around you through amplification but they have a special mechanism to reduce sudden loud sounds (gunshot) to a comfortable level that won’t damage your hearing,’ says Louise Hart.
It sounds like watching a movie – you hear the gunshots but at a safe level.Defender Pros require batteries (supplied) and you will need to see one of their qualified Audiologists to have your ears examined and moulds made. The cost includes examination and ear impressions and a 2 year guarantee.
Adult ear defenders – £14.99
Traditional ear defenders which sit on top of the ears and are attached to a headband which can protect from loud noises like gunshots or prolonged exposure to noise. Comes in red or yellow versions. Effective against loud noise although need to be removed to hear conversation. Will only react to gunshots as fast as you an put them back on.
Peltor Little Prince/Princess ear defenders – £16.00
Ear defenders for children which are comfortable and practical. Come in blue with Little Prince logo or red with Little Princess logo. Will protect little ears against loud noises from gunshots, machinery or motorsports.
The Oldie magazines. She also works for the NHS and is the Hippocratic Post's roving reporter.