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

What prevents your hearing protection from working correctly? Here are 3 things to watch for.

In spite of your best attempts, you can sometimes run into things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. That’s difficult to cope with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You wear your earmuffs every day at work; you use earplugs when you attend a concert; and you avoid your loud Uncle Joe who is always yelling in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).

The point is, it can be kind of discouraging when you’re doing everything correctly and still there are challenges. The good thing is that once you understand a few of these simple issues that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And that can ensure that your hearing protection works at peak efficiency even when there’s a bump in the road.

1. Wearing The Wrong Type of Ear Protection

There are two convenient and standard categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put straight into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they offer protection for your ears by muting external sound.

  • When you’re in a setting where noise is fairly constant, earplugs are recommended.
  • Earmuffs are advised in circumstances where loud sounds are more intermittent.

The reasons for that are pretty simple: you’ll want to remove your ear 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 cheap 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 okay if you wear the correct protection in the appropriate situation.

2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Hearing Protection

There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe who has larger vocal cords. That’s also why you may have a smaller than normal ear canal.

And that can interfere with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is often a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. 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 scenario, you may forsake the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself, leaving you in danger of hearing damage. The same thing can happen if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For people who work in noisy settings, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.

3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

If you’re using your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a gold star. But day-to-day usage will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep an eye on.

  • When they’re no longer pliable, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
  • Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Ears aren’t really the cleanest part of your body (ear wax serves a practical purpose and all, but it’s still kind of… yucky). Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re cleansing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. If you’re washing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
  • Check the band on earmuff protection. The band will need to be replaced if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.

Ensuring you carry out 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 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 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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