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Choices for Hearing Protection

Earplugs and earmuffs that look like wireless headphones have a noise reduction rating, or NRR. The NRR tells you how many decibels (dBA) your protection will block. Noise levels above 85 decibels can damage hearing. Check the NRR and decide what protection is right for you. Earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together to block even more noise.


  • Made of dense foam, flexible rubber, or silicone and come in different shapes

  • May be custom made

  • May come joined by cord to prevent loss

  • Are lightweight, comfortable, and easy to fit

Fitting earplugs

  • Wash hands

  • Reach over head and pull ear up and back

  • Insert plug into ear

Care of earplugs

  • Wash in soap and water

  • Discard if dirty


  • Cushions filled with foam or liquid

  • Difficult to wear with glasses or over hair that covers ears

Fitting earmuffs

  • Push hair away from ears

  • Place cushions over ears

  • Press cushions to create a seal around ears

  • Wear headband over top of head, not around neck

Care of earmuffs

  • Wipe cushions clean with damp cloth and soap

  • Don't modify headband or cushions

  • Replace cushions if torn and replace headband if bent

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: John Hanrahan MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
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