Attenuation characteristics of an extended-wear hearing aid: Impulse and continuous noise

Douglas S. Brungart, Nathaniel J. Spencer*, Nina Pryor, Nourhan Abouzahra, Elizabeth A. McKenna, Nandini Iyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extended-wear hearing aid (EWHA) is a hearing assistive device that combines a low-power analog amplification circuit with a soft biocompatible foam plug that allows it to remain in the ear canal for several months at a time without replacement. EWHAs fit snugly in the ear canal and are not vented and so produce insertion losses comparable to a passive earplug when inserted into the ear canal with the active circuitry turned off. However, EWHAs are not marketed as hearing protection devices, and other than a general warning to users that the device will have impaired auditory awareness when the device is inserted in the "off"mode, relatively little has been reported about the attenuation characteristics of EWHAs. In this study, commercially-available EWHAs were evaluated using the ANSI standard procedures for measuring hearing protector attenuation in impulse noise [ANSI (2010). S1242-2010, Methods for the Measurement of Insertion Loss of Hearing Protective Devices in Continuous or Impulsive Noise Using Microphone-In-Real-Ear or Acoustic Text Fixture Procedures (American National Standards Institute, New York)] and in continuous noise [ANSI (2006). S12.6, Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors (American National Standards Institute, New York)]. Attenuation values were also measured in double and triple protection conditions that combined EWHAs with traditional earplugs and earmuffs. The results show that properly-fit EWHAs can provide passive attenuation comparable to conventional passive earplugs, which may make it possible to use them to provide persistent protection from intermittent noise sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1404-1414
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


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