Man wearing hearing protection in his workshop to protect his hearing.

What hinders your hearing protection from working correctly? Watch for these three things.

Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you come across something that can impede the effectiveness of your hearing protection. That’s hard to deal with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a concert, you wear your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you do your best to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ear.

The point is, it can be rather aggravating when you’re doing everything correctly and still there are issues. The good thing is that once you know about some of these simple problems that can mess with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And that can ensure that your hearing protection functions at peak effectiveness even when you have some obstacles.

1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection

Ear protection comes in two standard types: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names may indicate, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs are like big headphones with no music (instead, they, you know, safeguard your ears).

  • Earplugs are recommended when you’re in an environment where the sound is comparatively continuous.
  • When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are recommended.

There’s an obvious reason for that: when it’s quiet, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is more difficult to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs are incredibly easy to lose (particularly if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a scenario where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.

Wear the proper form of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be fine.

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 average sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be narrower than the average person’s.

This can cause issues with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have small ear canals, and you stop using any hearing protection.

This can leave you open to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to provide for yourself. Another instance of this is individuals with large ears who often have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it may be worth investing in custom ear protection tailored to your ears.

3. Assess if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection

If you’re wearing your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day use will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.

  • Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
  • Clean your hearing protection. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Make sure you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you clean them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
  • Check the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be exchanged if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.

If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to perform 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 mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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