Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Look out for these three things.
Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you run into something that can interfere with the effectiveness of your hearing protection. And that can be aggravating. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You use your earmuffs every day at work; you wear earplugs when you go to a concert; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).
The point is, it can be rather discouraging when you’re doing everything right and still there are obstacles. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you learn what types of things can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re experiencing a bit of difficulty.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
There are two convenient and basic categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names may suggest, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, safeguard your ears).
- Earplugs are recommended when you’re in a setting where the noise is fairly constant.
- Earmuffs are recommended in instances where loud sounds are more irregular.
There’s a simple reason for that: when it’s quiet, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is harder to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
Wear the proper kind of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be fine.
2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
Human anatomy is amazingly diverse. 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.
And that can mess with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you stop using any ear protection.
If you find yourself in this situation, you could turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For individuals who work in loud environments, 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 wearing your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day usage will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
- 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 replace the band.
- Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Ears aren’t exactly the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a good purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… gross). Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re cleaning a set of earmuffs, take the earmuffs apart. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to do regular maintenance on your hearing protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to make sure you’re ready for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.