Is your hearing protection failing to protect 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 the job. That’s hard to cope with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day at work; you use earplugs when you attend a show; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is always 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. Fortunately, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can interfere with the performance of your hearing protection. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little difficulty.
1. Using The Wrong Kind of Hearing Protection
Hearing protection is available in two basic kinds: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are small and, as the name suggests, can be inserted straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no music (instead, they, you know, protect your hearing).
- Earplugs are recommended when you’re in an environment where the sound is comparatively constant.
- Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more intermittent.
There’s an obvious reason for that: when there’s no noise, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is harder to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you may find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.
You will be okay if you use the correct protection in the appropriate scenario.
2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is incredibly diverse. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. That’s also why you may have a smaller than average ear canal.
And that can interfere with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. And so if you have rather tiny ear canals, you might have a difficult time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up completely and in frustration, throw them away..
If you find yourself in this situation, you may forsake the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. Another example of this is people with large ears who often have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For people who work in loud settings, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a smart investment.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
If you’re wearing your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day use will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.
- Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Ears aren’t exactly the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… gross). Just make certain that you wash properly; if you’re washing an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be careful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
- 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).
If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to perform regular maintenance on your hearing protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to ensure you’re ready for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. Taking the time to protect it right is essential.