What stops your hearing protection from working properly? Look out for these three things.
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 discouraging. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You wear your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a concert; and you avoid 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 correctly but you’re still having trouble, it can be discouraging. The good thing is that once you find out about some of these simple challenges that can mess with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And this will keep your ear protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing 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 little and, as the name suggests, can be inserted right into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your hearing by blocking outside sound.
- Earplugs are suggested when you’re in a setting where the sound is fairly continuous.
- Earmuffs are recommended in circumstances where loud sounds are more intermittent.
The reasons for that are pretty simple: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are extremely easy to lose (especially if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.
You will be fine if you wear the correct protection in the right scenario.
2. Your Ear Protection Can be Affected by Your Anatomy
There are many variables in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average person’s.
This can cause complications with your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mentality: 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 hearing protection.
This can leave you exposed to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. The same thing can occur if, for example, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For people who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of hearing 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.
- When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- If you use earmuffs, check the band. The band will need to be replaced if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
- Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical purpose in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re washing a set of earmuffs, take the earmuffs apart. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
Making sure you carry out regular maintenance on your hearing protection is imperative 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 mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.