Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard 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 work. And that can be frustrating. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. You use your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you attend a show; and you avoid your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).
The point is, it can be a bit discouraging when you’re doing everything right and still there are obstacles. Luckily, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you know what kinds of things can impede the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a bit of difficulty.
1. Using The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two useful and standard categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names may indicate, earplugs are small 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 blocking outside sound.
- When you’re in a situation where noise is fairly constant, earplugs are encouraged.
- Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more irregular.
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 are very easy to misplace (particularly if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you take out an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.
Wear the proper form of hearing protection in the right scenario and you should be okay.
2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
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 interfere with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you quit using any ear protection.
This can leave you open to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were trying to provide for yourself. The same thing can occur if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it might be worth investing in custom ear protection tailored to your ears.
3. Check if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
If you’re using your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a gold star. But day-to-day use will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- 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.
- When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Ears aren’t really the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re cleansing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
Ensuring you carry out regular maintenance on your hearing protection is essential if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to ensure 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 vital. Taking the time to protect it properly is worthwhile.