We at Ear Plug Superstore have coined the term, ANS (acute noise sensitivity) to help classify this common condition so that it can be properly managed. Here is a link for more information about ANS, which you might find helpful: http://acutenoisesensitivity.org/
In general, we find the best solution for adult and older children who suffer from ANS is a musicians ear plug which can be worn daily, or as needed. These specialized ear plugs are available in universal fit or custom models, and they provide relief by reducing the volume of what is heard, while still letting the user clearly hear what is going on around them.
You may need to experiment to find the best ear plugs for yourself or for your child, but a great place to start is with the Crescendo Music ear plugs. These will reduce the volume by around 1/2 and they come with two sizes of tips to help make sure of a good fit.
You can use the NRR as a guide to which musicians ear plugs will give you more or less noise reduction. Musicians ear plugs often carry an "average attenuation" as well as the standard NRR rating. Both are valid, and both can be helpful in choosing the best product for your personal situation, but just be careful when comparing different products that you are using the same rating for both. Compare using the average attenuation for both or the NRR for both. Do not compare ear plugs using the average attenuation for one and the NRR for another. That is a recipe for confusion because average attenuation and NRR are dramatically different.
If you are working with groups of children or adults with a high incidence of ANS, for example special education classes, or groups of children or adults with autism spectrum disorders, and you need a more cost-effective solution you can provide to them, the Mack's Acoustic Foam and Howard Leight Clarity reusable ear plugs can offer very good solutions at very low cost. These ear plugs do not provide as good sound quality as you will get with musicians ear plugs, but they are far better than ordinary foam ear plugs in letting the users hear what they need to hear, while providing the relief from noise that they need.
For children who suffer from ANS, we suggest child ear muffs for babies of 6 weeks or so up to about 4 years old due to potential choking issues with ear plugs. All our child ear muffs will fit children of all ages, even up to small adults. Beyond about 4 years of age, either child ear muffs or musicians ear plugs can work, depending on the preferences of the child. As children get older, the ear muffs can become a source of embarrassment and teasing by peers, at which time it is a good idea to change to ear plugs, which are not as obvious as ear muffs, if possible. The most popular child ear muffs are Tasco Kidsafe ear muffs, and the musicians ear plugs we suggest you start with are the Crescendo Music ear plugs because they provide good quality sound and a noise reduction of about half, and they include two sizes of ear tips that really help make sure your child will usually get a good fit.
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