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Wearing earplugs is one of the easiest steps you can take to protect your ears from damaging noise levels. Ear plugs physically impede sound waves when inserted into the ear canal. Shopping for ear plugs can be confusing, as there are a large variety of styles available, but with patience and a little bit of know-how you can find the plug for you.

First of all, figure out how much noise reduction you need from your ear plugs. Take a look at the noise reduction rating (NRR) on the box to find out how much sound it cancels out: better quality plugs have a rating between 21 and 33. Think about where you plan to use your ear plugs. Ear plugs with a lower NRR are sufficient for blocking out traffic noise or your roommate’s TV while studying. In contrast, you will need ear plugs with a higher NRR rating if your profession consistently puts you near loud equipment or music.

The composition of your ear plugs is another important factor to consider. The most basic material is foam. Foam ear plugs compress as they are pressed into the ear and expand slightly when released to plug the ear canal. In contrast, you can use silicone plugs to mold a perfectly-fitted barrier around the outside of your ear. Both foam and silicone ear plugs need to be replaced periodically.

Finally, consider the situation that you need the ear plugs for. A simple foam or silicone plug will suffice in many circumstances; however, there are specialized plugs available for specific environments. For example, musicians often have custom ear plugs molded for them because they spend so much time around loud music both practicing and performing. Because these plugs are custom made to fit your ear, they will block out dangerous noise while still allowing you to hear the music you are making.

Many people shop for earplugs to wear while sleeping to block out the sound of their partner’s snoring. You can find ear plugs that are specifically designed to block out snoring without keeping you from hearing your fire alarm and alarm clock. When comparing ear plugs for sleeping, be sure to test them out with your head tilted sideways. You’ll want to choose a pair that fits well while lying down.

With a little time and consideration you should not have any difficulties finding the earplugs that are right for you.

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