Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Despite your best efforts, you can sometimes run into things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s difficult to cope with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a show, you wear your earplugs; At work, you use earmuffs every day; and you try to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ear.
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having difficulty, it can be discouraging. The good thing is that once you know about a few of these simple challenges that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And this will keep your ear protection working effectively even when you’re having a bit of difficulty.
1. Using The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two handy and basic categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are small and, as the name indicates, can be inserted straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your ears by muting outside sound.
- When you’re in a setting where sound is relatively constant, earplugs are recommended.
- When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are suggested.
The reasons for that are relatively 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 could find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.
You will be fine if you use the proper protection in the right situation.
2. Your Ear Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
There are many variables in human anatomy from one individual to another. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. That’s also why you may have a smaller than normal ear canal.
This can cause complications with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mindset, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. So, maybe you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you stop using any ear protection.
This can leave you open to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to provide for yourself. The same thing can occur if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For people who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a smart investment.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection regularly. But day-to-day use will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (generally, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
- If you use earmuffs, check 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.
- 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… yucky). Be certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
Making sure you perform 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 good idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. Taking the time to protect it right is worthwhile.