Hearing is precious. Protect it.

Permanent hearing damage can occur to your ear and auditory nerves if you are exposed to loud noise. This is called a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). In addition, exposure to loud noise can bring on or exacerbate tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Have you experienced the muffling of sound and high pitch ringing in your ears after a loud music gig? Then you have experienced some of the damage that loud noise can cause. Your hearing is precious.

At Melbourne Audiology Centre (MAC) we specialize in making custom earplugs for hearing protection; these are individually shaped to your ears. Compared to "off the shelf" generic ear plugs, they have the advantage of being;
  • more comfortable to wear
  • longer lasting
  • easy to insert
  • securely fit in the ear
  • more discreet

Our audiologists can recommend the right custom earplugs for you and ensure that they will provide you with sufficient protection from loud sounds and also allow you to hear the sounds you need to hear. For example; musicians earplugs allow you to hear the details in the music in a quieter and safer way.

We offer a range of custom earplugs:
  • For people in noisy places at work or leisure
  • For musicians
  • For iPod/mp3 player users
  • For sleeping
  • For swimming
  • For shooting
Learn more

Hearing Aid Models

All custom earplugs require ear impressions to be taken. An ear impression is a ‘cast’ of the outer ear and ear canal to determine your exact individual size and shape. Your audiologist will explain the procedure and take the impressions. During impression taking, you will feel some pressure in your ear and the coolness of the impression material, it is usually painless. Please contact us to make an appointment.

Custom earplug range

Solid custom earplugs

These solid custom ear plugs provide you with the most hearing protection by reducing noise by up to 40dB in the high frequencies. They are most suited for people who need to reduce high level noises such as industrial workers, builders, construction workers, aircraft operators and power tool users.

Musicians custom earplugs

Musicians custom earplugs are specifically designed to give you some hearing protection whilst also allowing enjoyment of music. This is achieved by a special filter that reduces the volume of all frequencies evenly, so that the bass and treble components of the music remain balanced. These special filters come in a range of noise reduction levels, from 9dB to 25dB.

Your clinician will advise which is most suitable for you.

Custom In-Ear-Monitors (IEM)

Custom In-Ear-Monitors are high-fidelity miniature speakers inserted into custom earmolds. They are used by musicians, sound engineers and music lovers to block out unwanted noise and provide crystal clear sound quality to music. IEM prevent musicians being exposed to excessive sound levels from stage monitors and also enables individual control for each musician over the instrumental and vocal mix. At MAC we can provide you with the ear impressions required to make custom IEM. Please call us to make an appointment with one of our audiologists to have an ear impression taken.

Shooting and Hunting Custom Earplugs

Shooters custom earplugs give maximum hearing protection when a loud noise is present, but allow less intense sounds (such as speech) to enter more freely. A special “non-linear” filter achieves this by snapping shut as the loud sound is detected, preventing its entry into the ear.

Sleeping Custom Earplugs

Custom earplugs for sleeping are made from a soft soft silicon material, fit perfectly in your ear and are comfortable to wear all night long. They are effective are reducing noise levels so that you can get a better nights sleep.

Please be aware that the plugs will reduce the noise but may not eliminate it. Plugs are better at attenuating high pitch sounds so low pitch sounds such as snoring, traffic noise will be attenuated less. In addition, sleeping on your ear or with your hands under your ear or pillow can increase the risks of discomfort with the sleep plugs.

Swimmers’ Custom Earplugs

Swimmers custom earplugs are designed specifically to protect your ears from water during activities such as swimming, surfing and other water sports. If you are prone to ear infections/irritation, have a perforated eardrum or have grommets inserted in their eardrums then protecting your ears from water is vital and custom made earplugs can give you superior protection. They are made from a soft silicone material, are comfortable to wear, easy to insert and stay securely in your ears.

MAC have been providing services and aids to people who suffer from Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) for over 14 years, in fact, we were set up to service the needs of this group of people and have a unique level of experience and knowledge of the special considerations of treating NI.

If you have worked for many years in a noisy industry, are a musician exposed to loud music, listen to lots of very loud music or attend rock concerts regularly and you have not been wearing hearing protection you may have an NIHL?

We encourage you to have your hearing assessed and purchase hearing protection if you are exposing your ears to loud noise.

At MAC we offer a complete service for people who are exposed to loud noise. We offer assistance at all levels;
  • hearing assessments,
  • hearing aid solutions and fittings,
  • hearing accessories, tinnitus management,
  • hearing protection,
  • advice and support
  • we are accredited to provide services for WorkSafe Victoria and for Comcare.

We can also help you if you are thinking of making a worker’s compensation claim.

There are multiple consideration and some challenges when addressing the needs of people with Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). About 60% of our clients have NIHL and we believe our audiologists are amongst the most experienced in addressing the challenges that this type of loss poses and to ensure that you have a successful outcome.

The considerations of NIHL include:
  • The correct selection and fitting of hearing aids. This can be challenging because of the type of hearing loss that is caused by noise. Our audiologists need to consider things like the "steepness" and shape of the audiogram, cochlear dead zones and balancing comfort and performance. The experience of our audiologists means that they have seen and addressed all of these challenges when fitting hearing aids to people with NIHL in the past
  • The use of accessories; to help you hear the TV better, to hear better at meetings, for the phone and to hear over a distance. We offer a range of hearing aid add-ons and accessories from leading suppliers
  • Managing any associated tinnitus. At MAC our audiologists offer you a holistic approach to tinnitus management
  • Protecting the remaining hearing from further damage with the use of appropriate hearing protection

In its early stages, many people affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are unaware they have it. However, NIHL is insidious in nature; it increases slowly over the years of continued noise exposure. It results in a sensorineural hearing loss which is permanent. People who have worked for many years in a noisy industry will attest to the difficulties noise-induced hearing loss can cause. There is no medical treatment for sensorineural hearing loss and rehabilitation with hearing aid amplification is the only treatment available.

The Hearing System

Sound enters the ear canal and is transmitted via the middle ear to the inner ear where there is a very delicate structure containing about 15500 “hair cells”. These hair cells contain little hair-like structures called cilia. Cilia bend and sway in response to vibration caused by sound waves and as a result of this movement, the hair cells send messages to the brain via the auditory nerves to indicate that sounds are present.

Damage to Hair Cells

Loud noise can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. If you overexpose the hair cells to a loud noise they become less able to bend and sway in response to sound, causing permanent hearing loss. Hair cell damage is the “sensori” part of a sensorineural hearing loss. The latest research indicates that the auditory nerves can also be damaged where they meet the hair cells (synapse) with exposure to loud sounds. This is the “neural” part of a sensorineural hearing loss.

Continued exposure results in severe hearing loss, increased sensitivity to loud sounds, distortion, and tinnitus.

Nature of Hearing Loss

The decrease in hearing caused by noise exposure starts in the high frequencies or pitches. This initially causes the sufferer to experience difficulties hearing the telephone or doorbells, understanding the television at a normal volume or understanding speech in a noisy situation such as a restaurant or shopping centre.

With additional noise exposure, the hearing loss increases further in the high frequencies aggravating any existing difficulties understanding speech and communicating and then it slowly progresses to include the lower frequencies. By this stage, even face-to-face conversations in a relatively quiet situation can become extremely difficult.


One of the most common and often debilitating problems caused by NIHL is tinnitus. Tinnitus is defined as the presence of any sound in the ear/s or head that is not caused by an external sound source. In other words, it is a sound generated in the hearing system that only the sufferer can hear. It is often described as a ringing or buzzing in the ears, although descriptions of the reported sound are many and varied. Tinnitus can often be the first warning sign of damage to the hearing system from excessive noise and often precedes any recordable drop in hearing. Therefore if you have tinnitus, we advise you to make an appointment and our audiologist can advise you further.

Increased Sensitivity to Loud Sounds and Distortion

Many people with NIHL also complain of intolerance to loud noises. Even some moderate to loud sounds such as clanking cutlery and crockery may be experienced as unbearably loud – this is called “hyperacusis”. Distortion is also commonplace and refers to the general lack of clarity of sounds, in particular, speech. These problems are due to physiological changes that occur in the inner ear as a result of hair cell damage from excessive exposure to noise.

If you have concerns about your hearing or tinnitus please contact us, our clinical team has been successfully treating noise-induced hearing loss for over 17 years.

The effect of noise on hearing is cumulative and is based on how often you are in noise, the time spent in noise and how loud it is. In the workplace, employers must ensure that workers are not exposed to more than 85dB over 8-hour shift (OH&S regulations). The time that can be spent in noise decreases as the loudness of the noise increases. This is also the benchmark to establish safe limits for noise exposure for recreational activities.

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