Do ear defenders actually work? Are ear defenders effective?

Ear Defenders - Do they Work?

Yes, ear defenders do work. In fact, ear defenders are recommended by many organizations such as the World Health Organization and the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Many of us don't think about the impact that noise can have on our mental health. But it's really important to protect yourself from loud noises. So if you want to know whether ear defenders will work for you or not, keep reading.

Why They Work

An ear defender only works if it is fitted correctly and provides a tight seal around the ears. Otherwise, sound will still enter the ear canal and bypass the ear protector. It also needs to be comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time as well as durable enough to withstand any pressure. Noise-cancelling headphones work in a similar way and are more effective than an ear defender because they fit snugly on your ears and reduce noise before entering your ears .

Some high-end over-ear headphones can provide excellent protection from noise levels. But they are advisable for use only when work is light and you're in an environment where there's not too much background noise.

Ear muffs or ear protectors are available as separate items or as built-in earmuffs. They are usually made of foam rubber and other synthetic materials, with the protection level being indicated by a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR).

8 reasons that ear defenders work

The reasons that ear defenders work are:

  1. They fit snugly around your ears, so sound is bounced off them before it can enter your ear.

  2. The material and size of the ear protector are designed to fit snugly and comfortably around the ears.

  3. There's a good seal between the ear protector and the outer surface of your ear, so that sound can't escape through your ear canal.

  4. The tight seal has to make a significant difference for the noise reduction, otherwise there won't be any measured advantage over standard headphone design.

  5. Ear defenders are available in a range of sound-reducing ratings (so they can manage different levels of noise).

  6. The ear defenders or ear muffs are made to seal over your ears and block out most of the sound, sometimes up to 32dB.

  7. Ear defenders work by blocking out sound, not just softening it. This is important for long-term wear because distortion can occur through lower frequencies in the music and create more harmful noise levels than unprotected hearing.

  8. Ear defenders also provide a good seal with your head so they don't let external sounds into your ears. Thus you can focus on what you're listening to and not be distracted by what's going on around you.


Ear defenders do work. They block out sound before it can reach your eardrum and cause damage.

Good ear defenders are available in different sizes to suit all adults and children. They allow you to hear clearly but reduce the level of noise entering your ears by up to 32 dB.

The ear defenders should be checked for wear regularly and replaced if they're not performing properly, with many companies offering replacements at no cost for a period of time after purchase. This is because some ear protectors lose their noise-reducing abilities over time – so you might need to replace them every year or so.


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NicK Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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