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Ear Plugs

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Traditional ear plugs are effective in eliminating hazardous noise from entering the ear canal, but can interfere with mission communication requirements, such as speech communication or low-level combat sounds. Level-dependent ear plugs were created to help address these issues.

Level-dependent ear plugs have a small filter that enables soft noises to be conveyed with full strength while eliminating hazardous steady-state or impulse noise. This allows Service members to hear key verbal and combat sounds and reduces dangerous noise levels, such as explosions or machine gun fire.

Keep in mind that ear plugs provide freedom to move around and communicate verbally. They’re easily transportable and can be used in a variety of situations. Ear plugs provide less noise reduction than aviator helmets or headphones and are only recommended for operating aircraft or combat vehicles in combination with other hearing protection devices.

Ear plugs should be placed snugly in the ear canal so they completely block the canal. When correctly in place, a seal will form between the surface of the skin in the outer ear canal and the ear plug. To test the ear plug, talk and listen to the sound of your voice. If it’s working effectively, your voice will seem louder and slightly muffled. 

Additionally, you may notice a vacuum sensation or feeling of backpressure in the ear canal. This is normal. To make sure the ear plugs fit and are in place correctly, follow the device’s insertion instructions or ask a specialist to check their fit.

Ear plugs come in many forms and are widely used across the military. Each type of ear plug has its own advantages and applications. Check with your installation for a list of available options.


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The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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