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

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

In spite of your best efforts, you can sometimes run into things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s hard to cope with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a show, you wear your earplugs; At work, you use 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 a bit aggravating when you’re doing everything right and still there are challenges. The nice thing is that once you find out about some of these simple issues that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And that can ensure that your ear protection functions at peak efficiency even when there’s a bump in the road.

1. Using The Wrong Type of Ear Protection

Hearing protection is available in two basic kinds: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be inserted right into the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, protect your ears).

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

The reasons for that are pretty simple: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are incredibly easy to misplace (especially if they’re inexpensive 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.

You will be fine if you wear the correct protection in the right situation.

2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy

Human anatomy is incredibly varied. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. It’s also why your ear canal may be narrower than the average individual’s.

This can cause complications with your hearing protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you might have a hard time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up completely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

This can leave you exposed to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. Another instance of this is people with large ears who frequently have a hard time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For people who work in loud settings, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.

3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection every day. But that also means you need to keep an eye on the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.

  • Examine the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
  • Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical purpose in your body but it can also build up on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re cleansing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. Be careful not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
  • Replace cushions on earmuffs from time to time (typically, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).

If you want to get the greatest possible benefit, you need to do regular 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 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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