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Choices for Hearing Protection

Earplugs and earmuffs can protect you from hearing damage. They have a noise reduction rating (NRR). The NRR tells you how many decibels (dBA) of noise they 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. This will block even more noise.


Earplugs are small pellets that fit in your ear. They:

  • Are made of dense foam, flexible rubber, or silicone

  • Come in different shapes

  • May be custom made

  • May be joined by a cord to prevent loss

  • Are lightweight, comfortable, and easy to fit

Man wearing earplugs.

Putting in earplugs

  1. Wash your hands first.

  2. Reach over your head and pull your ear up and back.

  3. Place the plug into your ear.

Caring for earplugs

  • Wash them in soap and water.

  • Get rid of them if they're dirty.


Earmuffs look like wireless headphones. They:

  • Cover your ears with cushions filled with foam or liquid

  • Are hard to wear with glasses or over hair that covers ears

Man wearing earmuffs.

Putting on earmuffs

  1. Push your hair away from your ears.

  2. Place the cushions over your ears.

  3. Press the cushions. This creates a seal around your ears.

  4. Wear the headband over the top of your head. Don't wear it around your neck.

Caring for earmuffs

  • Wipe the cushions clean with a damp cloth and soap.

  • Don't make changes to the headband or cushions.

  • Replace the cushions if they're torn.

  • Replace the headband if it's bent.

Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sumana Jothi MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2022
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