What prevents your hearing protection from working properly? Watch for these three things.
Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at work. And that can be discouraging. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. You wear your earmuffs every day at work; you use earplugs when you attend a show; and you avoid your loud Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling 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 steps to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And that can ensure that your hearing protection works at peak effectiveness even when there’s a bump in the road.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection
Ear protection is available in two practical types: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are small and, as the name indicates, can be inserted right into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, protect your ears).
- Earplugs are recommended when you’re in an environment where the noise is fairly continuous.
- Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more sporadic.
The reasons for that are pretty obvious: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are very easy to lose (especially if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a scenario where you take out an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.
Use the right form of hearing protection in the right scenario and you should be fine.
2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Hearing 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. It’s also why your ear canal might be smaller than the average individual’s.
This can cause complications with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you stop using any hearing protection.
If you find yourself in this scenario, you might forsake the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself, leaving you in danger of hearing damage. Another instance of this is individuals with large ears who frequently have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For people who work in noisy settings, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection regularly. But that also means you need to keep close track of the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.
- Your hearing protection should 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… gross). Just make certain that you wash correctly; if you’re washing a set of earmuffs, take the earmuffs apart. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
- Check the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.
- When they lose their pliability, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
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 make sure you’re ready for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a smart 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.