Is your hearing protection failing to protect your hearing? Here are 3 things to watch for.
In spite of your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. And that can be frustrating. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You wear your earmuffs every day at work; you use earplugs when you go to a concert; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having problems, it can be discouraging. Luckily, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can interfere with the performance of your hearing protection. And that can ensure that your hearing protection works at peak effectiveness even when there’s a bump in the road.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two convenient and basic categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might indicate, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like big headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, protect your ears).
- When you’re in a situation where sound is fairly constant, earplugs are recommended.
- When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are recommended.
The reasons for that are fairly obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are incredibly easy to misplace (especially if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a position where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.
Use the correct kind of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is amazingly diverse. 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 average ear canal.
And that can hinder your hearing 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 may have a tough time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up completely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.
This can leave you exposed to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. Another example of this is people with large ears who frequently have a tough time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For individuals who work in noisy 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
You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection every day. But that also means you need to keep an eye on the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.
- If you use earmuffs, examine the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is no longer holding the earmuffs snug, it’s time to exchange the band.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (generally, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
- Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also build up on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re cleaning an earmuff set, take the earmuffs apart. If you’re washing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
If you want to get the greatest possible benefit, you need to do regular maintenance on your hearing protection. It’s important that you have a consultation with us if you have any questions on how to care for your hearing protection or want to learn more about the things that can impede their performance.
Your hearing is vital. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.