What are earplugs?
Earplugs are small tools placed in the ears that are used to block out unwanted noise and water. They have existed for several hundred years, but have only recently been changed to fit the modern age.
How were modern earplugs created?
The foam-like earplugs we are familiar with today descended from earplugs created in the mid-1900s. Before then, earplugs were usually made out of clay or wax.
In the 20th century, researchers began to experiment with different materials such as silicone. The first silicone earplugs – invented in 1962 by Cecelia and Ray Benner – were meant to block water from entering the ear and to prevent infections. Cecelia and Ray Benner quickly realized the earplugs could be used to block out sound and keep people’s hearing safe.
In the late 1960s, Ross Garner and his research team developed “E-A-R” material, which eventually developed into memory foam. This “E-A-R” material was used to create better-fitting, re-useable, and inexpensive earplugs.
Although the shape and materials of earplugs have not changed much since the 1970s, they now are available in various colors and styles.
If you dislike earplugs because of their unfashionable appearance, there may be options for you. There are all sorts of earplugs on the market with sleek profiles and different looks now, including those that are less noticeable in the ear but still do the job.
Noise-induced hearing loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 10 million Americans are affected by permanent noise-induced hearing damage. The majority of Americans affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) could have prevented their hearing damage by turning down the volume and/or using ear plugs.
If you use earbuds or headphones to listen to your music, you should keep the volume at a maximum of 50 percent to ensure the safety of your hearing (see earbuds and hearing loss). When you are in a loud workplace (such as a factory) or at loud events (such as a concert), you should always consider wearing earplugs.