After wearing earmuffs for noise protection, it seems like my ears will ache for five minutes or so. It seems to be coming from the eardrum, but it's hard for me to really pinpoint this. When I wear earplugs though, I never have a problem. I couldn't find anything about this online. I'm trying to figure out why this might be occurring.

These earmuffs have a noise reduction rating of 25 dB. I'm using them when doing basic DIY jobs around the house. Things that involve a blower or a lawn mower.

  • What kind of noise, and what type of earmuffs? Different brands have different decibel protection, and it's possible that they may not fit and have gaps. As much detail as you can provide will help people give you a better answer. :)
    – JohnP
    Jun 29 '15 at 2:48
  • I updated my question. I would say that it's almost certainly not gaps because when I wear nothing at all, I don't experience anything like this. It's as if the earmuffs themselves are somehow creating the problem.
    – user914
    Jun 29 '15 at 3:17
  • Um, they're pressing on your ear, you know. After awhile that can hurt if they're pressing hard. Jun 30 '15 at 3:12
  • The ache is more in the interior of the ear.
    – user914
    Jun 30 '15 at 23:26
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The problem can be down to the hearing protection level of the earmuffs compared to the earplugs and the pain is the result of the noise hurting your ears. Different hearing protective devices can have different protection levels.

To select the right hearing protection for you, you may want to look at Cooper Safety's Webpage and read up on the information on NRR values. Specifically, the section on How does NRR change decibels of exposure? They also list on the page, typical sound levels in decibels (dB) of various sounds in order for you to estimate the dB levels you want to cancel out.

You said your earmuffs have a NRR of 25dB. Looking at what Cooper Safety highlights, that means they will reduce the noise level by 9dB (not 25dB) and a lawnmower or blower will have a noise level of around 90-100dB so NRR of 25dB is nowhere near enough.

I wish you luck in your search for something which is right for you.

  • Also consider that some seal to the head in a tight enough way to cause pressure differentials that can put pressure on the tympanic membrane, similar to when you go up in a plane.
    – DoctorWhom
    Aug 6 '17 at 10:40
  • The relationship between NRR and attenuation is very complicated. Further, even at 100 dB and 9 dB attenuation (which is the worse case by your numbers), you could still mow the lawn for nearly 8 hours. Finally, you should provide a reference about the noise required for the sensation of pain since it is often quoted at 120 dB.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 5 '17 at 15:15

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