Hearing Health Blog

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

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

Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you encounter something that can interfere with the effectiveness of your hearing protection. And that can be discouraging. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. 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 shouting in your ear.

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having problems, it can be frustrating. Fortunately, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you learn what kinds of things can impede the performance of your hearing protection. And that can ensure that your hearing 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 might imply, earplugs are compact and can be pushed directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they offer protection for your hearing by muting outside sound.

  • When you’re in a scenario where noise is fairly constant, earplugs are suggested.
  • Earmuffs are advised in instances where loud sounds are more sporadic.

The reasons for that are fairly obvious: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it’s quiet, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs take a little more work to put in and are easy to lose so you could find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you really need them.

Wear the correct form of hearing protection in the right situation and you should be okay.

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection

Human anatomy is incredibly varied. That’s why your vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average person’s.

And that can interfere with your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). And so if you have rather tiny ear canals, you may have a hard time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and in frustration, throw them away..

This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to provide for yourself. The same thing can occur if, for example, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For individuals who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of ear 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 use your hearing protection every day. But that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your hearing protection is experiencing.

  • If you use earmuffs, examine the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to exchange the band.
  • Replace cushions on earmuffs from time to time (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
  • Wash your hearing protection. 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). Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re washing a set of earmuffs, take the earmuffs apart. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs down the drain.

Making sure you do regular maintenance on your hearing protection is essential 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 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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