Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you run into something that can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And that can be frustrating. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a show, you wear your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you make your best effort to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ear.
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything correctly but you’re still having trouble, it can be frustrating. The good thing is that once you find out about some of these simple problems that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re having a bit of trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
Hearing protection comes in two basic kinds: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names might indicate, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, protect your ears).
- When you’re in a setting where sound is relatively constant, earplugs are recommended.
- Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more irregular.
The reasons for that are pretty obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are extremely easy to lose (particularly if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.
Wear the right form of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is incredibly diverse. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. That’s also why you might have a smaller than normal ear canal.
This can cause issues with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you might have a hard time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.
If you find yourself in this scenario, you might turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. Another instance of this is people with large ears who often have a tough time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For individuals who work in loud settings, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a smart investment.
3. Check if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
If you’re using your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day use will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- Examine the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.
- Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also accumulate on your hearing protection. Be certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you clean them. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
If you want to get the greatest possible benefit, you need to do regular maintenance on your hearing protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to ensure you’re ready for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is vital. Taking the time to protect it properly is worthwhile.