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

Is your hearing protection failing to safeguard your hearing? Look out for these three things.

Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you encounter something that can impede the effectiveness of your hearing protection. That’s hard to cope with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. 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 always yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).

The point is, it can be kind of discouraging when you’re doing everything right and still there are obstacles. The good thing is that once you know about some of these simple issues that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little difficulty.

1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection

There are two handy and basic categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put right into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your ears by blocking outside sound.

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

The reasons for that are relatively 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 are very easy to lose (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.

Use the proper form of hearing protection in the right scenario and you should be fine.

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection

Human anatomy is incredibly varied. 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 may have a smaller than normal ear canal.

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

This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For people who work in noisy settings, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a good investment.

3. Check Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection every day. But day-to-day usage will cause wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.

  • When they lose their flexibility, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
  • If you use earmuffs, check the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to replace the band.
  • Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical purpose in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Make certain you clean your hearing protection thoroughly by taking them apart before you clean them. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs into the drain.

If you want to get optimum benefit, you need to do regular 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 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. Taking the time to protect it properly is essential.

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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.