Ear plugs can change your life for the better. They can improve your sleep, enhance your focus, and best of all, preserve your hearing. But what if you can't use ear plugs? As much as we love ear plugs (obviously!), they aren't for everybody. Some people have small or sensitive ear canals, making it difficult to use ear plugs for their hearing protection needs. Others simply do not enjoy the sensation of having something in their ears. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to earplugs available for those who need another solution.
Which ear plug alternative is best depends on your situation, so let me answer the question for several different situations we commonly are asked about at Ear Plug Superstore:
One of the most common reasons people need ear plugs is for sleeping. Snoring and other noises can easily disrupt your sleep, which can have devastating effects on your health and quality of life. If you need to reduce the noise so you can sleep better, and ear plugs aren't an option, the first thing to try is a masking sound. This can be produced by something as simple as an AM radio, tuned off station so you get just static, then adjust the volume so that it drowns out the irritating sound. You can also use a fan for this purpose. If you want the best result, you can get a White Noise Machine, which is a device made to produce a masking sound specifically for this purpose. The ultimate white noise machine is the Nightingale White Noise Smart Home Sleep System by Cambridge Sound Management. This one is expensive, but customers swear by it. It just came out this year.
You can also use a Sleeping Headband such as SleepPhones or a set of Pillow Speakers to deliver your favorite masking sound more directly to your ears. This is helpful because the sleeping headband, especially, remains in place as you turn during the night, giving you consistent masking sound right where you need it.
Of course, at night isn't the only time you might need hearing protection. If you need protection from dangerously loud noise, you can wear Ear Muffs, which fit over the ear, rather than in the ear canal as is the case with most ear plugs. Many people find earmuffs to be much more comfortable than ear plugs. However, ear muffs are also significantly heavier than ear plugs, and feel warmer in hot weather. But if ear plugs won't work for you, ear muffs are the obvious next choice, and different types of ear muffs are available to suit a wide variety of situations.
Another good option, especially when you need intermittent protection from noise (rather than continuous protection) is to use a Banded Ear Plug. These just "cap off" your ear canals, and do not require that you insert a plug as with ordinary ear plugs. This could resolve most of the problems you might have with using ear plugs.
Finally, you might consider trying Moldable Ear Plugs. These are made of wax or moldable silicone putty, and they do not go into the ear canal. Instead, moldable ear plugs are used to fill the outer ear and thereby form a cap over the ear canal, making them much more comfortable than ear plugs that must be stuffed down in the canal. They are not quite as effective at blocking noise, but they offer a great alternative for many applications including sleeping, swimming, studying, protection from dangerous noise up to about 100 dB, and even for small caliber shooting.
Please reach out if you still have questions about hearing protection. That is what we do.
Until next time, be safe and do the right thing.
Tom Bergman, Vice President
Ear Plug Superstore