Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
Despite your best efforts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s difficult to cope with. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. When you go to a concert, you wear your earplugs; At work, you use earmuffs every day; and you make your best effort to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ear.
The point is, it can be a bit discouraging when you’re doing everything correctly and still there are difficulties. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you learn what kinds of things can impede the performance of your ear protection. And that can ensure that your hearing protection functions at peak effectiveness even when there’s a bump in the road.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
There are two convenient 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 are like big headphones with no music (instead, they, you know, protect your hearing).
- Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in a setting where the noise is comparatively constant.
- Earmuffs are advised in instances 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 misplace (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.
You will be fine if you use the proper protection in the appropriate scenario.
2. Your Ear Protection Can be Affected by Your Anatomy
Human anatomy is amazingly diverse. That’s why your vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal might be narrower than the average individual’s.
And that can hinder your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you may have a hard 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 might turn away from the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. Another example of this is individuals with large ears who often have a difficult time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. If you spend a lot of time in noisy environments, it might be worth investing in custom hearing protection personalized to your ears.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear
You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection every day. But day-to-day use will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.
- If you use earmuffs, check the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to switch out the band.
- Wash your hearing protection. Ears aren’t exactly the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Make certain you clean your hearing protection thoroughly by taking them apart before you clean them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
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 hinder your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
You need your hearing. Taking the time to protect it right is worthwhile.