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.

Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you encounter something that can interfere with the performance of your hearing protection. And that can be discouraging. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. When you go to a concert, you use your earplugs; At work, you use earmuffs every day; and you make your best effort to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ear.

The point is, it can be kind of aggravating when you’re doing everything right and still there are difficulties. The nice thing is that once you know about a few of these simple problems 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 having a bit of difficulty.

1. Using The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection

Hearing protection is available in two standard kinds: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might imply, earplugs are small and can be pushed directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your ears by blocking external sound.

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

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 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.

Use the correct form of hearing protection in the appropriate situation and you should be okay.

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Ear Protection

There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. 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 t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you may have a difficult time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

If you find yourself in this scenario, you might turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. Another instance of this is individuals with large ears who frequently have a tough time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. If you spend a lot of time in noisy environments, it might be worth investing in custom hearing protection personalized to your ears.

3. Check Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

If you’re using your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day usage will cause wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep close track of.

  • 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… gross). Be sure you wash your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
  • When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
  • If you use earmuffs, examine the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is no longer holding the earmuffs snug, it’s time to exchange the band.

Ensuring you conduct routine maintenance on your hearing protection is essential if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. It’s important that you have a consultation with us if you have any questions on how to care for your hearing protection or want to know more about the things that can interfere with their performance.

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.

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