The Study of Attenuation Levels and the Comfort of Earplugs

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Samelli, Alessandra G.
Gomes, Raquel F.
Chammas, Tiago V.
Silva, Barbara G.
Moreira, Renata R.
Fiorini, Ana Claudia [UNIFESP]
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Introduction: This study aimed to analyze and compare four different types of earplugs, divided into premolded plugs and foam plug models, in relation to the level of attenuation, comfort, and the size of the external acoustic meatus (EAM) in an attempt to identify how these variables influence the choice of specific hearing protection devices (HPDs). Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was performed in a sample of 49 participants, oriented toward the ideal placement of four HPDs, two premolded and two foam plugs (3M (TM)). The procedures included otoscopy, EAM diameter measurement using an otometer, EAM volume measurement via an acoustic impedance test, and the obtainment of the bilateral personal attenuation rating (PAR) for each HPD using the E-A-Rfit (TM) Validation System (3M (TM)). The Bipolar Comfort Rating Scale (BCRS) instrument was applied twice for each individual: once after the evaluations with the premolded HPDs and again after the evaluations with the foam plug HPDs. Then, each participant was asked which was his/her favorite protector. Results: The volume of the EAM was not directly related to the diameter of the EAM. The attenuation did not interfere with the HPD preference, and the PAR of the foam plug was significantly higher regardless of the preferred HPD. Regarding the BCRS, the variables "Placement," "Complexity," and "Occlusion Effect" had higher scores for premolded HPDs and had a direct relationship with the type of preferred HPD. Conclusion: Attention to the use of HPDs should be personalized, taking into account the needs of each individual, considering not only the attenuation, but also the user's reported well-being.
Noise & Health. Mumbai, v. 20, n. 94, p. 112-119, 2018.