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 encounter something that can impede the effectiveness of your ear protection. That’s difficult to cope with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a show, you use your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you try to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ear.
The point is, it can be rather frustrating when you’re doing everything right and still there are challenges. The good thing is that once you know 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 working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection
Hearing protection comes in two standard kinds: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are small and, as the name suggests, can be put straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, protect your ears).
- When you’re in a setting where noise is relatively constant, earplugs are recommended.
- When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are recommended.
There’s a simple explanation for that: when there’s no noise, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is more difficult to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you could find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.
Use the right form of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Hearing Protection
There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. 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 average ear canal.
And that can mess with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). So, maybe you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you quit using any hearing protection.
This can leave you exposed to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. The same thing can happen if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For people who work in noisy settings, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.
3. Check if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection every day. But day-to-day usage will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- Clean your hearing protection. Ears aren’t exactly the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a good purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re cleaning an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be careful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
- When they lose their pliability, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- If you use earmuffs, examine the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to switch out the band.
If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to perform routine maintenance on your hearing protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to make sure you’re prepared for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is important. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.