What stops your hearing protection from working correctly? Here are 3 things to watch for.
Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you encounter something that can interfere with the effectiveness of your hearing protection. That’s difficult to cope with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you go to a concert; and you avoid your raucous Uncle Joe who is always shouting in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).
The point is, it can be rather frustrating when you’re doing everything correctly and still there are issues. Luckily, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you understand what kinds of things can interfere with the performance of your hearing protection. And that can ensure that your ear protection works at peak effectiveness even when there’s a bump in the road.
1. Using The Wrong Kind of Hearing Protection
There are two convenient and standard categories of hearing protection: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names may suggest, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your ears by blocking outside sound.
- Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in an environment where the noise is relatively constant.
- Earmuffs are advised in instances where loud sounds are more sporadic.
The reasons for that are pretty obvious: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it’s quiet, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs take a little more work to put in and are easy to lose so you may find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
Use the correct kind of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Ear Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
Human anatomy is extremely diverse. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such a large set of vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than average ear canal.
And that can hinder your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a clothing mentality: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you quit using any hearing protection.
This can leave you open to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. The same thing can occur if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For individuals who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of ear 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 every day, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day usage will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.
- Examine the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.
- Your hearing protection needs to 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 certain that you wash correctly; if you’re cleaning an earmuff set, take the earmuffs apart. Be careful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (typically, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
Ensuring you carry out routine 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 ready for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is important. Taking the time to protect it properly is essential.