Are Foam Earplugs the Best Plugs for Concerts?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Suzerman, Jul 3, 2019.

    1. Suzerman

      Suzerman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10 october 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably a mix of ETD and TMJ
      For the first time since getting my (probably somatic) tinnitus, I am going to go see a concert.

      I do however want to protect myself as much as possible, and I am considering to even buy Peltor muffs to put on if the noise is still too loud. However, preferably I would like to just wear earplugs.

      Now I am looking online for ones that filter out over 30 dB, and in the descriptions it seems that foam earplugs filter out up to 37 dB, whereas silicone ones (from Alpine), only reach up to 25. I find that a bit strange, considering how the silicone ones cost a lot more than foam ear plugs.

      What do you guys think/know? about this? Is it sufficient to just get some foam earplugs? Any experience with going to a concert and protecting your hearing?
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 3
    2. Mister Muso
      Wishful

      Mister Muso Member

      Location:
      Scotland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2007 and spiking since April 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      First, glad to hear you are feeling well enough to take this step, and I sincerely hope that your ears are ready and you don't suffer any set-back as a result. It looks like your tinnitus has been fairly mild, but I would say it's better to err on the side of caution.

      The foam plugs are designed to block out all sound, whilst the silicon ones are supposed to "attenuate" the sound so that it sounds less muffled. That's why they cost more, as they are more expensive to produce. They're not designed to reduce the decibel level as much.

      Last concert I went to, my tinnitus was still relatively mild. I wore a foam earplug in my bad ear, and a silicon musician's earplug (ER20) in my better ear. I was fine except for a moment at the very end of the concert when they turned the volume up at the desk - unnecessarily as it turned out, because the band chose to bring in their own crescendo just afterwards. I felt a bit of pressure in my bad ear, but no bad effects afterwards afaik.

      I will not be going to any more concerts for a while now, as I've had two unrelated spikes since then (a few weeks after that concert) and have been experiencing more ear pain just from day-to-day sounds.

      I would recommend you take breaks during the concert as it's your first one since your recovery, and exercise particular caution towards the end of the show when the volumes inevitably rise as you will be aware. Good luck!
       
    3. Vincent R
      Caffeine

      Vincent R Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      Going to concerts with T is a risky business. Condider if it's really worth it. If you go, here's my advice:

      1. Foam earplugs do not provide the level of protection proclaimed in the product info. Foam earplugs offer somewhere between zero and twenty decibels protection depending on how deep they are inserted. Make sure to insert standard foam earplugs well into your inner ear canal before you go to the concert (google for instructions) and do not take them out while you're there. Foam earplugs is the established default solution when it comes to earplugs, so I wouldn't bother with silicon ones.

      2. Bring with you earmuffs as well, and put them on if it still feels to loud.

      3. Don't stand close to the speakers.

      4. Think twice before you drink any alcohole. Every now and then, people who get drunk do stupid things with regards to their hearing, i.e. standing to close to the speakers, removing their hearing protection, failing to leave even though the sound feels to loud et cetera.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    4. Don Tinny

      Don Tinny Member

      Location:
      Argentina
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017 (worsening)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert with ear plugs
      Just look where it says "Cause of tinnitus". It's playing with fire.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    5. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      Hopefully you will not buy into false misleading information.

      'How does NRR change decibels of exposure?
      When hearing protection is worn, your level of exposure to noise is based on the NRR rating of the protection device being used. Keep in mind, however, that while the NRR is measured in decibels, the hearing protector being used does not reduce the surrounding decibel level by the exact number of decibels associated with that protector’s NRR. For example, if you are at a rock concert where the level of noise exposure is 100 dB and you are wearing earplugs with an NRR 33dB, your level of exposure would not be reduced to 67 dB. Instead, to determine the actual amount of decibel deduction applied (when decibels are measured dBA which is the most common), you take the NRR number (in dB), subtract seven, and then divide by two. Given the previous example, your noise reduction equation would look like the following: (33-7)/2 = 13'
       
    6. Mister Muso
      Wishful

      Mister Muso Member

      Location:
      Scotland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2007 and spiking since April 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      Wow that's a sobering thought, and sorry to hear that. I gave myself a spike last night playing the piano very softly with double protection in the form of earplugs and ear muffs. The cicadas are back to their level they were at last week after I thought they were (slowly) on the way out.

      Let's be careful out there.
       
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    7. Don Tinny

      Don Tinny Member

      Location:
      Argentina
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017 (worsening)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert with ear plugs
      Well ... my T was almost gone when I went to the concert. Imagine how much I regret.
       
      • Hug Hug x 2
    8. PortalNaut

      PortalNaut Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Late 2/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      Please consider that the math above is for dbA scales, but for any dbC reading the NRR is just subtracted plainly.

      See ref
      https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.95AppB

      I prefer dbC for sound analysis as it is a flatter curve. 'A' scale removes a large amount of low frequencies and some high.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Suzerman

      Suzerman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10 october 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably a mix of ETD and TMJ
      Thank you for all the replies. I think i'm just going to bring foam plugs as well as peltor muffs. I have to say that I'll always be nervous to do things like this especially after reading some experiences here. And I am doubting whether I should. I am just a really big fan of this band and I just want to go see them so badly :cry: I don't even care that much if I look ridiculous with muffs on. I just don't want to take any chances, nor miss out on seeing them. But I guess it's always going to be a risk :(
       
    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      HI @Suzerman

      I hope you have an enjoyable experience when you go to the concert. I would like to give you some advice which I don't think anyone has mentioned to you. It doesn't matter what level of ear protection you use, if the sound is too loud, it will pass through your head/skull and be transferred to your inner ear by bone conduction. This can spike your tinnitus and in some cases increase it to a new permanent level. Earplugs, earmuffs, and professional moulded plugs can make some people believe they will not be affected by external sound no matter how loud it is. I assure you this is not the case.

      Take care
      Michael
       
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    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Suzerman

      Suzerman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10 october 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably a mix of ETD and TMJ
      I have to say you guys did not really supply me with the answers I was hoping for lol but I was already expecting this. I just wish there was some way to know how loud the venue is going to be prior to going. Are there any websites on this subject? Or apps that keep track of these things?
       
    12. Don Tinny

      Don Tinny Member

      Location:
      Argentina
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017 (worsening)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert with ear plugs
      I think you can't enjoy a concert being afraid. You will be monitoring the level of tinnitus and adjusting your earplugs all the time.

      When I heard so much noise at the nightclub I thought "maybe I should go home" but I stayed, and here I am.

      Some people here had positive experiencies with earplugs but you never really know what is going to happen with tinnitus.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Suzerman

      Tinnitus can be a very complex depending on how severe and intrusive it is for the individual. Therefore, no information on any website, will be able to guarantee what levels of sound will be safe for you at concert you intend to go to. The truth of the matter is this: Loud sound and tinnitus do not go well together. Earplugs offer some protection but as I've mentioned in my previous post, if external sound is loud enough it can pass through your head and be transferred to your inner ear by bone conduction. This can result in temporarily or permanently increasing your tinnitus to a new level of intensity.

      Michael
       
    14. Farah
      Wisdomatic

      Farah Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise - Standing next to speaker at 2 day festival.
      Hey, regarding the foam earplugs, please make sure you have them inserted properly, so many on here are not fitting them properly. I read a guy on here saying they were useless and kept falling out of his ears! They are meant to go all the way in with just a little bit sticking out for you to grip so you can remove them. They're really great and you should be able to enjoy the concert as long as you're not near the speakers. I've been to a concert already. If it's too loud even with them in, you'll know what to do. Enjoy :)
       
    15. PortalNaut

      PortalNaut Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Late 2/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      For Iphones, there are a variety of decibel meter apps you can download, and almost all of them are quite good (or good enough (+/- 2db), per a study. NIOSH has even released one...for IOS. (I'm not an expert at Android, but I bet there are some. Update: the NIOSH reports less "good" db apps on Android). I would for sure download an app, and begin using it a little around town so you can get used to what your body says feels loud versus the decibel reading. Then at the concert, with your protective gear on, you can measure how load the venue is and get a sense (from the #'s) if they are extra loud or "only" 100 db.

      Note, my son is in a band, and about at the one year mark of my T... I went to one of his shows because it was close by, and reasons. I only used earplugs, and their speakers were fairly close because it was a small venue. Their decibels were 100 ish, sometimes 105. I had a spike for the next week or two, but it eventually went away.

      Good luck.

      Refs:
      https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2017/01/17/slm-app/
      https://blogs-origin.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2014/04/09/sound-apps/
      https://asa.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1121/1.4865269
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    16. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      I think he said it best. He got a spike but went away. What if it doesn't go away? @PortalNaut 2 days after 9/11/2001 EPA said the air quality on ground zero was safe. To date the number of people that died from cancer exceeds the number the terrorists killed. I'll use the (NRR-7)*.5. Trust got busted. Remember what 3M did to the military!
       
    17. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      This is all so strange. Why would db C just have the NRR subtracted but dB A you have to do (X-7)*.5 for ear plugs and (X-7)*.7 for ear muffs?

      I think this standard is in place because they are trying to account for people not wearing hearing protection properly, so they are doing a worst case scenario. On hearing aid packages they usually show a range for perfect fitting NRR to improper fitting NRR.

      I think this is the case with OSHA standards. With this mindset the BEST hearing protection you can achieve is 13 dB, which is absurd and definitely not true.

      new-nrr-rating.jpg
      slide_10.jpg
       
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    18. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      @Jack Straw finally someone gets it. I think it is to hide the defect in the product? Your post should be a stable post, too many people are being fooled.
       
    19. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      I think you may be misunderstanding what I am implying. The OSHA standards are overly cautious and not true. I feel that we understand how to wear hearing protection better than anyone and the NRR on the products are closure to their max number than what OSHA is suggesting.
       
    20. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      We may agree to disagree. I believe they are saying it is almost impossible for a human to reach the max NRR. I will calculate using the formula.
       
    21. Chester

      Chester Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      heavy earwax buildup
      Sorry I can't answer your question as I don't know anything about earplugs or earmuffs because I never wore any of those after the onset. In my case, I enjoyed every activity that I used to do before getting tinnitus including seeing movies at the theater, riding my bike to work daily for about 18 miles, watching movies at my home theater at reference volume levels, boxing training and listen to music etc. all without any type of protection. I did this as my ears never reacted to these sounds. Today, after 31 months, I can say my tinnitus is almost non-existent. That being said, my advice is to you, if your tinnitus reacts to loud sounds, better stay away from such venues, otherwise go and enjoy the concert. BTW, I hate live concerts but I do watch them at home on Blu-ray.
       
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    22. Daniel S.
      Curious

      Daniel S. Member

      Location:
      Pennsylvania
      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure, Music, Sporting Events
      Hi, Suzerman! So I'm just going to try and answer you directly here since I was in a similar boat a couple months ago during a trip to Vegas.

      I went to a club (not the same as a concert obviously, but still quite loud) and wore these Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs that I picked up online, and they worked very well for me! I've suffered several spikes over the years but did not get one from going to the club with those foam plugs.

      Also, if you want to try and get some idea of how loud the concert is going to be, you could try to call the venue in advance and ask them what the average and/or max decibel level is. Do you know if the concert is indoors or outdoors? Outdoors is preferable for someone with tinnitus.

      Bear in mind that my tinnitus is from noise exposure. It isn't somatic. So just because the plugs worked well for me doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the same result. With that in mind, I would consider bringing the Peltors with you just in case you need them. I would not recommend going with silicone plugs. In my experience, they simply don't provide adequate protection for people like us. And to be honest, you can actually hear music pretty well with the foam plugs. I was actually really surprised at how much I could still hear at that club in Vegas.

      One last thing, though. If you do go to this concert, you might want to consider popping some magnesium supplements both before and after the show, and perhaps some NAC as well (be sure to check with your doctor before taking them, of course). And I would avoid exposing yourself to any other loud environments for at least a few weeks after the concert.

      Hope that helps! If you do go, have fun and be safe!
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    23. Mishal Almutairi
      Approved

      Mishal Almutairi Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017 December
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wisdom removal with high dose Antibiotics
      The best thing Ive found and real easy to come buy is a piece of tissue paper put in your mouth till its all wet and stuck deep into your ear. Make sure its large but not too large and stuck it in right in the back, you won't hear a damn thing so perhaps its a little overkill but I do this ALL the time. I mean every time I go anywhere loud. No need for foam plugs.
       
    24. Sash

      Sash Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/01/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      cleaning out wax
      It is a dilemma that I have tried fighting as like you music is everything. Without life seems dull. I have turned down a lot of opportunities to go to music venues as I know its going to be loud. On the other hand there is a music festival coming up that I have been to in the past that I found a spot where the decibel count was around 85. I may go.

      I know most people will say its one to many. No doubt there is risk and more say for tinnitus suffers but if you only go out very infrequently then while some say it is foolish I think that is being pragmatic.

      Do enjoy and let is know how you got on.
       
    25. Ruse

      Ruse Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      NIHL & TMJ
      I wouldn’t use the foam ones personally - once you have taken them out once they don’t give you the same tight fit thereafter (though you could always take several pairs)

      I find that the foam ones also end up making the sound muffled because they do not reduce all frequencies equally.

      I have used a brand of silicone earplugs in the past ’Senner’ which I thought were decent, though if you can afford in future I would strongly recommend ACS custom earplugs. They can give you a good reduction in Db whilst maintaining a clear sound.
       
      • Informative Informative x 2
    26. Sam98

      Sam98 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe loud music? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if not, then perhaps jaw related
      Hey old post, but did you ever end up going to the concert? If so, what kind of ear plugs did you end up using? Have a concert in a couple months, so I’m also doing research on good ear protection. Thanks hope all is well.
       
    27. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Suzerman

      Suzerman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10 october 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably a mix of ETD and TMJ
      I am actually going this coming Tuesday! I have to say that I'm quite nervous, but I'm super prepared. I bought foam plugs that have been rated as the best and are known to filter out about 35 dB. Im also bringing my decibelmeter to check the sound levels, and I have bought peltor muffs that I'll bring just in case. It also wasn't an expensive concert, so I am able to walk out if all of that doesn't work and it's still too loud for me. It'll break my heart because I love this band, but hey you have to do what you have to do.
       
    28. John Mahan

      John Mahan Member

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      Seems rather needless and absurd doesn't it? Isn't concert merely an acronym for tinnitus generator?
      I wonder how many that attended concerts that caused tinnitus or a spike would love to have a do over?

      Just remember, the 1% is alive and well. There are people that will continue to ride a bicycle with a knee injury and swim with a shoulder injury.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    29. Greg Clarke

      Greg Clarke Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Wicklow, Ireland
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2006
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Live Music
      @Suzerman Please go to the show, enjoy it. Foam earplugs work great. You’ll get nothing but negativity here from people that don’t go to concerts. I go all the time, I play in two bands, one of which is death metal. Hit me up if you want any more info.
       
    30. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      It took a fraction of a second to give me tinnitus.
      The damage is cumulative - give it time.
      Earplugs can provide a false sense of security. Countless people on this forum shared their experience of relying on earplugs and getting a permanent tinnitus spike. Here's one
      Please read the quote below, and especially the words at the end that I had highlighted.
      3942f855-1e63-4a44-bbb0-370de766829a-jpeg.jpg

      30sxh4-jpg.jpg
       

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