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 encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. And that can be aggravating. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. You use your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a show; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is always shouting 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 challenges. Fortunately, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can impede the performance of your ear protection. And that can ensure that your ear protection functions at peak efficiency even when you have some obstacles.
1. Using The Wrong Type of Ear Protection
There are two handy and standard categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names may indicate, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, safeguard your ears).
- When you’re in a scenario where sound is fairly constant, earplugs are encouraged.
- Earmuffs are recommended in instances where loud sounds are more irregular.
There’s an obvious reason for that: when it’s quiet, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is more difficult to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
You will be fine if you wear the proper protection in the right scenario.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection
Human anatomy is incredibly varied. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be narrower than the average person’s.
This can cause problems with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mentality: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you might have a hard time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.
This can leave you open to risk, undercutting 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 individuals who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.
3. Check if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
If you’re using your hearing protection every day, 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.
- Check the band on earmuff protection. When the elastic is worn out and the band is no longer holding the earmuffs snug, it’s time to switch out the band.
- Wash your hearing protection. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re cleansing an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
Ensuring you carry out routine 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 ensure you’re prepared for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is important. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.