Why do I need to protect my hearing?

Your hearing is connected to so many other processes in your brain, including your cognition and memory, so making sure your hearing is as good as it can be can help you stay healthy and happy for as long as possible. Even though hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions, it can be pretty difficult to notice in the earliest stages, so many people let their hearing get worse without realising. A mixture of good hearing protection and regular hearing tests are easy ways to help monitor your hearing and minimise hearing loss.

What is a dangerous decibel level?

Sound volume is measured in decibels or dBA. Long-term or repeated exposure to sounds louder than 85dBA has been shown to cause hearing loss. As you might expect, the louder the sound, the shorter the period of time before symptoms of hearing loss becomes apparent.1

A motorbike engine sits at around 90dBA but it may surprise you that listening to headphones at maximum volume can actually exceed this and reach 100dBA or more. Volumes around 70dBA, such as a toilet flushing, loud conversation etc., can all be tolerated for long periods of time without seriously affecting your hearing.

Hearing damage can start at around 85 decibels (dB) when you’re exposed to it for eight hours or more without hearing protection. After that, for every noise increase of 3dB the exposure time cuts in half. For example, you can only be exposed to 88dB sounds levels safely for four hours, 91dB for only two hours, and so on. 

How can I protect my hearing?

The best way to protect your hearing is to avoid loud noise. But we know that this isn’t always so easy, especially if you work in noisy environments like construction sites and factories.

Employers should carry out a noise assessment and then determine the correct type of hearing protection needed; this will depend on several factors, including the level of noise and the amount of exposure an employee has to it. It’s also the employee’s responsibility to make sure they use the hearing protection provided.

But it’s not only workplaces that could damage ears. More young people are being affected by hearing loss because they are listening to personal music devices, and going to concerts, festivals and clubs with noise at damaging levels. While we wouldn’t want you to miss out on gigs, there are some things you can do to protect your ears – like not standing too close to speakers or, even better, using instant-fit earplugs or some custom hearing protection.

Wearing hearing protection is an easy way to help you protect your hearing. Hearing protection ultimately focuses on reducing the total volume that reaches your ears in both the short and long term without you having to worry too much about where.

How noisy is too noisy?

Listening to any sound at a high volume - more than 89 decibels - for more than five hours a week can damage hearing permanently.

The damage builds up gradually and the effects may not be noticed until years later when it is too late - most hearing loss or tinnitus caused by noise exposure is permanent.

You can prevent deafness due to noise by taking steps to protect your hearing and by reducing the length of time you listen to very loud sounds.

How do I protect myself from noise exposure at work?

Employers have a legal duty to protect your hearing. There are laws that aim to protect your hearing, called the Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) details are available on the HSE website.

Regulations state that if you are exposed to loud noise at work, your employer must have noise levels assessed, and keep a record of the assessment.

Custom-fit hearing protection

Wearing high-quality hearing protection not only protects the ears in case of too much noise, for example while listening to music, motorcycling and frequent chores, it also contributes to the sound experience during these activities by preserving speech whilst minimising harmful noise.

Custom earplugs are bespoke plugs that are designed to fit the shape of your ear canal. Due to their bespoke fit means that you can wear them for longer than standard ear plugs with greater levels of protection and comfort.

Made from soft, medical-grade siliconeAlthough they’re a bigger initial investment, because they can be reused, they save money over the long term. You just need to remember to clean them regularly.

There are a variety of options, from general use to specialised in-ear earplugs for motorcyclists, swimmers, surfers, shooters, travellers, DIYers and those in need of a good night’s sleep.

Custom hearing protection is available from €125.


Perfect for swimmers, kayakers, surfers and all watersports enthusiasts - prevent ear infections and surfers ear by keeping water out comfortably.


Intended for people who want to cut out background noise in order to be able to get a good night's sleep or to concentrate. For example, students and travellers, or people on shift work or those with a snoring partner.


For anyone with a passion for motorbikes or motorsport like F1. Irritating wind noise is reduced to a minimum so you can enjoy the roar of powerful engines to the full.


The revolutionary filters ensure even attenuation that won't distort the sound of your favourite music all whilst keeping harmful noise to a minimum.

Find out more


For people who simply want to catch up with friends in a busy café and for fun-loving party-goers in various clubs and/or at festivals – the filters focus on optimal speech intelligibility.


Arriving well-rested at your destination? Set your relaxation button to the max with Travel hearing protectors while flying or using public transport


Whether you want to muffle annoying noise when doing chores around the house or work in an industrial environment these plugs attenuate as much noise as necessary.


Take the edge off a noisy office, busy street or a café whilst being able to stay engaged with your environment – perfect for those with noise sensitivity that do not want to block out the world.


Designed specifically to reduce sound pressure caused by gun shots, artillery fire and explosions whilst allowing speech to be heard.

Extra information

  • High end membrane mesh filters
  • Let’s the ear breathe
  • Allows for situational awareness and communication
  • 100% tested & certified
  • Fully washable
  • Attenuates low and high frequencies
  • Reusable
  • Portable carry case

For more information about any of these products, please ask a member of our in-store teams.

How to use earplugs

Below are some handy tips to insert and clean your earplugs.

How to insert custom ear plugs

  • Wash your hands.
  • Slightly pull your ear back and up – this will make it easier to insert them.
  • Gently insert the plug into the ear making sure it fits correctly.

How to put in foam earplugs

  • Make sure your hands are clean before you handle your earplugs.
  • Roll the earplug into a narrow tube.
  • Slightly pull your ear up and out a little bit – this will make it easier to insert them. 
  • Your ear canal will have opened up a bit, so it will be easy to gently insert the earplug, making sure it is well inside your ear, but not too far down that you have to force it.
  • There should still be a small amount sticking out so that you can easily grip it to remove later.

How to clean earplugs

  • Regularly removing the build-up of earwax and oil from your earplugs will make sure that they stay flexible and effective.
  • Put your earplugs in warm water with a little soap added.
  • Remove the dirt by gently rubbing them with your fingers or by using a soft cloth.
  • Make sure you’ve washed off all the soap, and leave them to dry on a clean towel.

Which is the best hearing protection?

The best hearing protection is really the one that you’ll use the most. If you’re not exposed to regular extremes of volume such as planes, fireworks or concert venues then custom or instant fit plugs will probably be the best option to give you sufficient protection, while also being portable and convenient.

How do loud noises affect your hearing?

Your ears are carefully balanced and delicate organs that allow you to hear even the faintest sounds and subtleties in speech and music. This can leave the inner structure of the ear, known as the cochlea, susceptible to irreversible damage. Long-term exposure to work-related noises or one-off extremely loud noises (like an explosion) can damage the cells and nerves of the inner ear, preventing them from properly transmitting sounds to the brain. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent — you can’t regain hearing that you lose from sounds that are too loud for you.

Hearing loss information hub

All about earwax

Online hearing test


1. Ding, Tonghui et al. “What is noise-induced hearing loss?.” British journal of hospital medicine (London, England : 2005) vol. 80,9 (2019): 525-529. doi:10.12968/hmed.2019.80.9.525