Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Look out for these three things.
In spite of your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s difficult to deal with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You wear your earmuffs every day while working; you wear earplugs when you go to a concert; and you avoid your raucous Uncle Joe who is always shouting 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 obstacles. Luckily, you can take some measures to protect yourself once you know what types of things can impede the performance of your hearing protection. And this will keep your ear protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re experiencing a bit of trouble.
1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection
There are two handy and standard categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might suggest, earplugs are small and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs are like big headphones with no tunes (instead, they, you know, safeguard your hearing).
- Earplugs are suggested when you’re in an environment where the noise is fairly continuous.
- When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are recommended.
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 are incredibly easy to lose (particularly if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a position where you remove an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.
Wear the right form of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be okay.
2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection
There are many variables in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal might be narrower than the average person’s.
This can cause complications with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is often a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you stop using any hearing protection.
This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. The same thing can occur if, for instance, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For individuals who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.
3. Assess if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection
You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection regularly. But day-to-day usage will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.
- Replace cushions on earmuffs from time to time (generally, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
- Your hearing protection needs to 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… yucky). Make certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you clean them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them down the drain.
- 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 replace the band.
Ensuring you do 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 ensure you’re prepared for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.
Your hearing is vital. Taking the time to protect it right is worthwhile.