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

Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Here are 3 things to watch for.

Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s hard to deal with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You use your earmuffs every day at work; you wear earplugs when you attend a concert; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).

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

1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection

There are two handy and basic categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names may suggest, earplugs are small and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs are like large headphones with no music (instead, they, you know, safeguard your ears).

  • When you’re in a setting where sound is relatively constant, earplugs are suggested.
  • Earmuffs are recommended in cases where loud sounds are more intermittent.

The reasons for that are fairly obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it’s quiet, 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 so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.

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

2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy

There are many variables in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such a large set of vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than average ear canal.

This can cause complications with your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mentality: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). And so if you have particularly tiny ear canals, you may have a hard time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up entirely and in frustration, throw them away..

If you find yourself in this situation, you could turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it may be worth investing in custom ear protection customized to your ears.

3. Check 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 that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.

  • Examine the band on earmuff protection. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to switch out the band.
  • 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). Be certain you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them down the drain.
  • When they lose their flexibility, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.

Making sure you do routine maintenance on your hearing protection is imperative 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 ready 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.

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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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