Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s hard to deal with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. You put on your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a show; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).
The point is, it can be kind of aggravating when you’re doing everything right and still there are difficulties. The good thing is that once you find out about some of these simple challenges that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And this will keep your ear protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a bit of trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
Ear protection comes in two practical forms: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, protect your hearing).
- Earplugs are recommended when you’re in a place where the noise is relatively continuous.
- Earmuffs are recommended in instances where loud sounds are more intermittent.
There’s a simple reason for that: when it’s quiet, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is more difficult to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a little more work to put in and are easy to lose so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
Wear the right form of hearing protection in the right scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is incredibly varied. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such a large set of vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average person’s.
This can cause complications with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. And so if you have particularly tiny ear canals, you might have a difficult time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.
This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to provide for yourself. Another instance of this is people with large ears who frequently have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For people who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.
3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear
You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection every day. But day-to-day use will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep close track of.
- When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- Wash your hearing protection. Ears aren’t exactly the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… gross). Make certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you clean them. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
- If you use earmuffs, examine the band. The band will need to be replaced if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
Making sure you conduct regular maintenance on your hearing protection is vital if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to make sure you’re prepared for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a smart 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.