What prevents your hearing protection from working properly? Here are 3 things to watch for.
Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you come across something that can impede the effectiveness of your hearing protection. That’s hard to deal with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. You wear your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a concert; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, perhaps 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. Luckily, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you learn what types of things can impede the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little difficulty.
1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection
Hearing protection is available in two practical forms: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names may suggest, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your ears by blocking outside sound.
- When you’re in a setting where noise is fairly constant, earplugs are recommended.
- When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are suggested.
The reasons for that are relatively obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are very easy to misplace (especially if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a position where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.
Wear the correct kind of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be okay.
2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. 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 may be narrower than the average person’s.
And that can interfere with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). And so if you have particularly tiny ear canals, you may have a tough time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up completely and in frustration, throw them away..
This can leave you open to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. Another example of this is people with large ears who frequently have a difficult time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For people who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.
3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear
If you’re using your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a gold star. But that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.
- When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
- If you use earmuffs, check 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.
- 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). Make certain you wash your hearing protection thoroughly by taking them apart before you clean them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
Ensuring you conduct routine maintenance on your hearing protection is imperative if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. It’s important that you have a consultation with us if you have any questions on how to take care of your hearing protection or want to know more about the things that can interfere with their performance.
You need your hearing. Taking the time to protect it right is worthwhile.