Earplugs reduce outside sounds by about 20 to 30 decibels for someone with normal hearing. Ordinary cotton balls or wads of tissue paper stuffed into ears cut noise only by about seven decibels. Normal conversation runs about 60 decibels. Continual exposure to more than 85 decibels may cause hearing loss. Earplugs can be premolded for the user and most are sized for men.