What hinders your hearing protection from working correctly? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you encounter something that can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And that can be discouraging. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. When you go to a show, you wear your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you try to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ear.
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having problems, it can be frustrating. The good thing is that once you understand some of these simple problems that can mess with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And that can ensure that your ear protection works at peak efficiency even when you have some obstacles.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
There are two convenient and standard categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are little and, as the name suggests, can be inserted straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, safeguard your hearing).
- Earplugs are recommended when you’re in an environment where the noise is fairly continuous.
- When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are suggested.
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 are very easy to lose (especially if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you remove an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.
Use the proper form of hearing protection in the appropriate situation and you should be okay.
2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Ear Protection
Human anatomy is amazingly varied. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. That’s also why you may have a smaller than average ear canal.
And that can hinder your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mentality: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). So, maybe 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. For individuals who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.
3. Assess if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection every day. But that also means you need to keep an eye on the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.
- Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Just make certain that you wash properly; if you’re washing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
- When they lose their flexibility, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- Check the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be exchanged if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to do routine maintenance on your hearing 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.
You need your hearing. Taking the time to protect it properly is essential.