What stops your hearing protection from working properly? Here are 3 things to look out for.
In spite of your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. And that can be discouraging. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a show; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having difficulty, it can be discouraging. The good thing is that once you understand a few of these simple challenges that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re having a little trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two convenient and standard categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might suggest, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they offer protection for your ears by muting outside sound.
- Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in an environment where the sound is fairly constant.
- Earmuffs are advised in instances where loud sounds are more sporadic.
The reasons for that are pretty simple: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, and that’s easier 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 need them most.
Wear the proper form of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection
There are many variables in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than normal ear canal.
And that can hinder your hearing protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mindset, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. So, maybe you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you stop using any hearing protection.
This can leave you open to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. Another instance of this is individuals with large ears who frequently have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it may be worth investing in custom hearing protection personalized to your ears.
3. Assess if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
If you’re wearing your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a gold star. But that also means you need to keep an eye on the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (typically, when those cushions aren’t 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 practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Just make certain that you wash properly; if you’re washing an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
- If you use earmuffs, check the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to exchange the band.
If you want to get maximum 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 hinder your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.