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

What hinders your hearing protection from working properly? Here are 3 things to watch for.

Despite your best efforts, you can sometimes run into things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s difficult to deal with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you attend a show; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having problems, it can be aggravating. Luckily, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you understand what kinds of things can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re having a bit of difficulty.

1. Using The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection

Ear protection comes in two basic forms: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names may indicate, earplugs are small and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your ears by muting outside sound.

  • Earplugs are recommended when you’re in a place where the noise is fairly continuous.
  • Earmuffs are advised in circumstances where loud sounds are more intermittent.

There’s a simple explanation 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 take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.

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

2. Your Ear Protection Can be Affected by Your Anatomy

There are many differences in human anatomy from one individual to another. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. That’s also why you may have a smaller than average ear canal.

This can cause issues 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 small ear canals, and you quit using any hearing protection.

This can leave you open to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. 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 environments, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.

3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear

If you’re wearing your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a gold star. But that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.

  • Wash your hearing protection. Ears aren’t really the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a good purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Just make certain that you wash correctly; if you’re cleaning an earmuff set, take the earmuffs apart. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
  • If you use earmuffs, check the band. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.
  • When they lose their pliability, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.

If you want to get the greatest possible benefit, you need to do routine maintenance on your hearing protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to ensure you’re ready for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

Your hearing is vital. 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.