I've worn hearing protection(muffs) since my first days at the tractor plant. I don't think I've heard anything louder and painful than the sound of an air chisle inside of backhoe bucket. Then later as a welder, I worn rubber earplugs to keep the monotonous noise of welding arc and hammer banging at bay; an added benefit was that plugs kept the occassional spatter from burning holes in your eardrums.
In the Navy, earplugs and muffs were a constant companion in my daily work routine. Between the normal sounds in machinery spaces, metal fabrication, flight deck ops and exposure to Naval gunnery... you were a going to be a sorry fool later in life for not wearing hearing protection when you had the chance.
After wearing rubber plugs for a few hours, they began to hurt the ear canal like the dickens even if they were sized perfectly. After hours of wearing ear muffs, they had a tendency to make your head feel like was stuck in a vice, and wearing safety glasses meant earpiece imprints in your temples. The advent of foam earplugs was a revelation to me. Gone went the pain.
Now with the many choices of customized and reasonably priced hearing protection on the market, only a blithering idiot would want to chance losing one of the most valuable senses.
Nothing can restore lost hearing. Once itís gone, itís gone! BUT hearing loss caused by noise is preventable and you can choose to prevent it.