Noise is Everywhere: The Importance of Hearing Protection and Noise Reduction

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 


Noise is Everywhere: The Importance of Hearing Protection and Noise Reduction

Noise is everywhere, it is all around us all the time. Learning about hearing protection and noise reduction for those with sensitives to sound is critical.

According to a December 2022, Healthy Hearing, Hearing Loss Statistics at a Glance article, the following statistics were highlighted related to hearing loss. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) indicate that about 48 million (or 14%) of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. A similar amount report tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. One of the most common ways people damage their hearing is through excessive noise exposure, leading to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). About one out of every five workers is exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace. Once your hearing is gone, you cannot get it back. The CDC reports these numbers on NIHL:

  • About 40 million US adults aged 20-69 years have noise-induced hearing loss
  • More than 1 in 2 US adults with hearing damage from noise do not have noisy jobs, meaning the exposure is likely recreational
  • About 1 in 4 US adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage
  • An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise, according to the CDC 
  • Even a mild hearing loss can cause a child to miss significant classroom instruction, according to HLAA”

For individuals with sound sensitivity, common sounds can be uncomfortable or distressing to hear. Those with sound sensitivity hear sounds differently than their peers, often louder. Certain sounds trigger irritation, nervousness, anger, aggression, fear, and anxiety. I have personal experience with sound sensitivity on a regular basis. For me, when this occurs it negatively affects my focus and participation in events and activities.


What can we do to protect our hearing? How can those more sensitive to sound be better prepared?

Learn more about how sounds may be affecting your hearing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive website called Listen Up! Protect Your Hearing.  This site is designed to help people learn more about protecting hearing. The colorful interactive noise meter describes how loud different sounds are and how to protect your ears when around them.


The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders suggests that the best ways to protect your hearing are to avoid exposure to loud sounds, move away from the noise, or turn down the volume. When these options are not possible, hearing protectors such as earplugs can help. The following list are examples of ear protection:

  • Expandable foam ear plugs– These plugs are made of a formable material like soft foam, designed to expand to the shape of each person’s ear canal.
  • Pre-molded, reusable ear plugs–These plugs are made from silicone, plastic or rubber and are “one-size-fits-most” or are available in several sizes. Using these has the same effect as turning down the volume on a stereo lessening the intensity of sound. One example is, Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs.
  • Canal caps– Canal caps are earplugs on a stiff or flexible plastic or metal band. The earplug tips may be a formable or pre-molded material. May be worn over the head, behind the neck or under the chin. There are several versions available, here is one example, NoiseOff Noise Reduction Headset.
  • Earmuffs or Headphones– Earmuffs and headphones come in many models designed to fit most people and are typically adjustable. They block out noise by completely covering the outer ear. Earmuffs come in various sizes with different levels of noise reduction. Examples- HearingSafe Protective Headphones, Maxwell Noise Cancellation Headphones, Sony Noise Canceling Headphones, Deluxe Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, and Flex-Phones Foam Headphones. While using headphones to reduce or block environmental noise, take caution to ensure a safe volume if you are playing music.

A few tips to cope with noise sensitivity include:

  • Be prepared–Think ahead of time about the places you are going and activities you will be participating in- what are the noise levels? If you are not sure, call ahead and ask. When in doubt, take ear protection!
  • Keep ear protection handy– Having something comfortable to use available in your backpack, on a keychain, in a compartment of a car, or wherever is close that you can easily access it as needed is important!
  • Background noise– Sometimes having a tv/radio on in the background or listening to music through headphones can help reduce the sudden startle of various environmental noises that may occur.

In this video, Dr. Ray reviews an alternative way to use Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs as a way for students with hearing sensitivity to move through transitions without standing out or missing important directions.


Carrying a set of ear plugs is crucial for me, not just for loud events like concerts and monster truck shows, but for everyday activities, like a louder than usual restaurants or noisy waiting rooms. I keep a set on a keychain in my backpack, which is always with me on my wheelchair.


Additional Resources

Many smartphones support use of free sound level meter applications like Decibel X and SPL Meter, which are for both Android and iOS. These can be helpful for monitoring levels of sound in your everyday environments.


Did you know that World Hearing Day is celebrated March 3rd each year? This is an annual global advocacy event for raising awareness regarding hearing loss, promoting ear and hearing care, and calling for action to address hearing loss and related issues. Each year, this event covers a specific theme on which the World Health Organization and its partners carry out activities based on this theme. Visit to see registered events around the world which may be of interest to you.


Adopt healthy hearing habits for yourself and encourage your family and those you may work with and… don’t forget the hearing protection!


Posted in Access Angle Segment