Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to watch for.
In spite of your best efforts, 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. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You use your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a show; and you avoid your loud Uncle Joe who is always shouting in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having problems, it can be discouraging. The nice thing is that once you find out about a few of these simple challenges that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little difficulty.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection
Ear protection comes in two practical kinds: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your hearing by muting outside sound.
- When you’re in a scenario where sound is relatively constant, earplugs are encouraged.
- When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are suggested.
The reasons for that are relatively simple: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are extremely easy to lose (particularly if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you remove an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.
Wear the correct form of hearing protection in the right scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is extremely varied. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than normal ear canal.
And that can hinder your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes 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 situation, you may forsake the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. The same thing can occur if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors awkward. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it might be worth investing in custom ear protection customized to your ears.
3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection regularly. But day-to-day use will cause wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- Clean your hearing protection. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also accumulate on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re cleaning an earmuff set, take the earmuffs apart. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
- Examine the band on earmuff protection. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to switch out the band.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
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 good idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is important. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.