Thanks for your question. There are different types of ear protective devices which can alter how much protection you actually receive. Ear muffs that cover your entire outer ear generally offer more protection than ear inserts or plugs. It is important that the seal around the ears is tight. There are also differences in ear plugs. The OTC foam plugs generally offer very good attenuation, but its important to make sure they are large enough and fit snugly. Insertion is critical for these, also. Roll them up tightly, insert into your ear, and keep your fingertip on the outer edge of the plug until it has fully expanded. They are reusable, but once they're soiled or begin to lose their elasticity, best to discard them and start with a fresh set. Ear plugs may also be custom molded to your ear from various materials which may be specific to different types of noise sources. Your hearing care professional would be able to assist you with that choice. Again, these must fit tightly. Over time, our ears change shape, so they must be replaced every so often, also. Interestingly enough, it really doesn't help to wear the headphones over the ear plugs- the additional sound attenuation is negligible. And, the amount of protection indicated on the packaging of OTC plugs refers to lab measurements, not real world.
Beyond the hearing protection, it would be worthwhile to have your hearing tested and then subsequently monitored.
Its good that you are wearing hearing protection, and its important to keep it on during the entire exposure. Removing and replacing during the exposure reduces the amount of protection, even if its for just a moment.
One last question for you- does the ringing go away after a while, or is it persistent? If persisitent, that is a question to pose to your hearing care professional at the time of a hearing evaluation.
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