Earplugs – small devices that block out unwanted sound and water – have been around for hundreds of years. However, earplug technology has only recently been refashioned to fit the modern age (see what are earplugs).
Before the 20th century, earplugs were commonly created out of wax and/or clay materials. The small foam-like earplugs we know today descended from mid-1900s earplugs. In 1962, Ray and Cecelia Benner invented the first silicone earplugs, which prevented water from entering the ear, blocking infections and blocking out sound. In the late 60s and early 70s, Ross Gardner and his team of researchers developed the material used to make modern earplugs: “E-A-R” material, which was later developed into memory foam.
Since the 70s, the shape and materials of the earplugs have remained much the same. Over time, they have become easier to acquire and come in a variety of styles and colors. However, it seems not enough people are wearing them. According to the Better Hearing institute, approximately 10 million Americans suffer from irreversible noise-induced hearing damage.
The majority of Americans with noise-induced hearing loss could have prevented their condition by protecting their ears and turning down the volume. During work or at loud events, such as concerts, you should consider wearing earplugs. While listening to music with earbuds and headphones you should keep the volume at a maximum of 50 percent. At full volume, an mp3 player can play anywhere from 110 to 120 decibels, which is nearly 40 decibels louder than the level of loudness that can induce hearing damage.
If you are at a concert, work, or need to protect hearing in summer and do not want huge earplugs to be sticking out of your ears, there may be options for you. There are several styles and varieties of earplugs now on the market for all sorts of uses and looks, including those that are less noticeable in the ear but still do the job.