Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. And that can be discouraging. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. You put on your earmuffs every day at work; you use earplugs when you go to a concert; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything correctly but you’re still having problems, it can be discouraging. The nice thing is that once you understand a few of these simple challenges that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re having a bit of trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two handy and standard categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names might indicate, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your ears by muting external sound.
- Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in an environment where the sound is relatively constant.
- Earmuffs are advised in instances where loud sounds are more irregular.
The reasons for that are fairly obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. 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.
You will be fine if you use the correct protection in the appropriate scenario.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is incredibly varied. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than normal ear canal.
This can cause issues with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. And so if you have rather tiny ear canals, you might have a hard 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 attempting to give yourself. Another example of this is people with large ears who frequently have a tough time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. If you spend a lot of time in noisy environments, it may be worth investing in custom ear protection tailored to your ears.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear
If you’re using your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a gold star. But that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.
- 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. Make sure you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
- Check the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
Ensuring you perform 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 prepared for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a frank discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.