Is your hearing protection failing to protect your hearing? Look out for these three things.
Despite your best efforts, you can sometimes encounter things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s difficult to cope with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you go to a show; and you avoid your loud Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).
Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything correctly but you’re still having trouble, it can be frustrating. The good thing is that once you find out about a few of these simple problems that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And that can ensure that your hearing protection works at peak efficiency even when there’s a bump in the road.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two useful and standard categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, safeguard your ears).
- When you’re in a setting where sound is fairly constant, earplugs are suggested.
- When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are recommended.
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 take a little more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you could find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.
You will be fine if you wear the correct protection in the appropriate situation.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection
There are many variables in human anatomy from one individual to another. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. That’s also why you may have a smaller than normal ear canal.
This can cause issues with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a clothing mentality: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). 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 scenario, you might forsake 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. If you spend a lot of time in noisy environments, it may be worth investing in custom hearing protection customized to your ears.
3. Assess Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear
If you’re wearing your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But that also means you need to keep an eye on the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
- Examine the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be replaced if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
- Clean your hearing protection. 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). Be certain you wash your hearing protection thoroughly by taking them apart before you clean them. Be careful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
Making sure you carry out routine maintenance on your hearing protection is vital if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to make sure you’re prepared for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is vital. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.