Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.
In spite of your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s difficult to deal with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. When you go to a show, you use your earplugs; At work, you use earmuffs every day; and you do your best to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ear.
The point is, it can be rather aggravating when you’re doing everything correctly and still there are challenges. Luckily, you can take some measures to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re experiencing a bit of difficulty.
1. Using The Wrong Kind of Hearing Protection
There are two convenient and standard categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might suggest, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs are like big headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, protect your hearing).
- When you’re in a situation where noise is relatively constant, earplugs are encouraged.
- Earmuffs are advised in circumstances where loud sounds are more irregular.
The reasons for that are fairly simple: 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 take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose so you could find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.
Use the proper form of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be fine.
2. Your Ear Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy
There are many variables 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. That’s also why you might have a smaller than average ear canal.
And that can interfere with your hearing protection. Disposable hearing protection is often a one size fits all mindset, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. So, maybe you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you stop using any hearing protection.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you in danger of hearing damage. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For people who work in noisy settings, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
If you’re wearing your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day usage will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.
- Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Ears aren’t really the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Be certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you clean them. If you’re washing earplugs, don’t drop them down 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 use earmuffs, check the band. The band will need to be replaced 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 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. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.