Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to watch for.
Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s difficult to cope with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. When you go to a show, you use your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you do your best to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always shouting in your ear.
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything correctly but you’re still having difficulty, it can be frustrating. The good thing is that once you understand some of these simple issues that can mess with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And this will keep your ear protection working effectively even when you’re having a little trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection
There are two useful and standard categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are small and, as the name indicates, can be inserted right into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your hearing by blocking external sound.
- Earplugs are suggested when you’re in an environment where the sound is relatively continuous.
- Earmuffs are recommended in cases where loud sounds are more irregular.
The reasons for that are fairly simple: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you may find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
You will be okay if you wear the correct protection in the appropriate situation.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection
There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal might be narrower than the average person’s.
This can cause problems with your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you might have a difficult time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and in frustration, throw them away..
This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were attempting to provide for yourself. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For people who work in loud settings, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.
3. Assess 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 that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
- Wash your hearing protection. Ears aren’t really the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a good purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… gross). Just make certain that you wash properly; if you’re washing an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
- If you use earmuffs, check the band. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
If you want to get the greatest possible benefit, you need to perform 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 frank discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.