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earplugs wanted! - helen-louise
earplugs wanted!
OK. I need some help pretty urgently.

Lately, I've been having increasing trouble in blocking out unwanted noise when in a noisy environment. For example, when sitting at a table with my friends in a crowded restaurant. I seem to have lost the ability to "un-focus" on other people who don't matter and focus on the people that I'm trying to talk to. This is both very annoying and quite distressing. I keep missing half the conversation, have to keep asking people to repeat themselves, and as a result have been getting stressed out and angry.

This is most likely either a manifestation of my brain chemistry being out of whack, or a side effect from a medication that I've been put on. It's not really anything to worry about, except that I'm going insane trying to cope. I know that some of my autistic/Aspie/auditory processing disordered friends have special earplugs that help to reduce background noise so you can focus on important things/people. Please tell me what these earplugs are called in as much detail as you can, and where you got them from, so I can either buy or order some!

I also need some blocking out of most sounds earplugs, to cope with travelling on buses or trains. Ideally these should reduce outside sounds without also increasing my ability to hear inside sounds, as I get panicky when I can hear nothing but my own heartbeat.

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9 comments or Leave a comment
epi_lj From: epi_lj Date: 26th August 2008 20:19 (UTC) (Link)
Unfortunately, I have no idea what the earplugs are. :( My noise isolating earbuds could potentially be used with some sort of voice recorder or microphone to do something like that I suppose, but it'd be kludgey, and on their own they do result in that "all you can hear is your heartbeat" feeling.

That said, what I did pop by to do was toss you this in case you hadn't seen it:

thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 26th August 2008 21:22 (UTC) (Link)
The inability to block out background noise is a classic symptom of (probably temporary) hearing loss - have you got a cold or similar?

www.connevans.com can provide Proguard earplugs - may be what people use?

For blocking out sound, I find the wax Muffles ones from chemists better than foam ones, but you have to put them in a bit, wait for them to soften, and then push them in better, followed by pulling out a bit to equalise the pressure so you don't get that feeling your heartbeat in your ears thing.

Hope some of that is useful.
baratron From: baratron Date: 26th August 2008 21:46 (UTC) (Link)
No cold, though lots of allergies. This has been going on for a month or so and my ability to hear in general is the same as usual, or possibly better. I seem to have become hypersensitive to loud sounds, and I keep thinking that music is too loud when it's an acceptable volume.

One of the meds I'm on has a list of side-effects as long as a metaphorical person's arm, which includes "increase or decrease in the acuteness of hearing or changes in pitch perception". The pitch perception side-effect is rare but odd - you'd perceive sounds about a semitone lower than their actual pitch. So you'd hear middle C as B flat, etc. I've been looking out for that one as it, possibly above any of the "death" side-effects, is the one that might seriously stop me taking the medication. I'm not sure I can explain coherently why.

So I'm not amazingly alarmed by having my hearing change, as it's clearly linked to what's wrong with my brain (although I do think this started before I went onto that med). But living in a world with too much noise is making me feel very unable to cope. Yesterday I had a total emotional meltdown in Ikea because it was TOO LOUD, and I don't want that to happen again.
meirion From: meirion Date: 28th August 2008 08:22 (UTC) (Link)
Ah. Don't think I'll be asking for carbamazepine any time soon, then! Having perfect pitch is one pf the few things I actually like about myself.

I have this problem with noise all the time, as does J (more intensely than I do, usually, but on Saturday when I was more agitated than I've ever been before we were about equal). However a certain amount of background chatter also helps me to concentrate (not on talking to people, but on reading or doing computer-based thinking) where silence just causes me to go looking for LJ or the like.

I'll be interested to read the responses.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: 26th August 2008 21:36 (UTC) (Link)
My noise-something headphones filter out (attenuate anyway) lots of frequencies but not, interestingly, speech ones.
_nicolai_ From: _nicolai_ Date: 26th August 2008 22:10 (UTC) (Link)
Etymotic ER-20 earplugs may suit you. They're easy to get and not particularly expensive. Note you can wash the outer covering part that contacts your ear and they last approximately forever.
From: pir Date: 27th August 2008 00:22 (UTC) (Link)

I carry a pair with me all the time and they've got a reasonably flat frequency response so they cut volume down to let me hear better and concentrate on specific things (my main use is not being deafened at clubs and gigs while still being able to hear music and hold a conversation).
barakta From: barakta Date: 27th August 2008 07:21 (UTC) (Link)
I third those. kimble has a pair and they're invaluable in noisy situations when she'd otherwise just space out from overload. As others have said they have a flat frequency response.

Interestingly I am much worse these days than I used to be, put me in a supermarket on a bad day and my brain just stalls. I sort of go all spacey and shit. I think kimble avoids this by wholist hyper-efficiency mode - which I'm not so good at..

I'll try and remember your hearing this year and might randomly wave my hands around which other non signers say can be helpful.
alexmc From: alexmc Date: 27th August 2008 07:23 (UTC) (Link)
They look a bit like my TDK earphones which fell apart after a few months. But at 12 dollars I think I might try them myself.

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