3 Things You Should Know About Hearing Protection

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

What stops your hearing protection from working correctly? Watch for these three things.

Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you run into something that can impede the effectiveness of your ear protection. And that can be frustrating. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! When you go to a concert, you wear your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you try to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is always shouting in your ear.

The point is, it can be rather frustrating when you’re doing everything right and still there are issues. The nice thing is that once you know about some of these simple challenges 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. Using The Wrong Type of Hearing Protection

There are two convenient and standard categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. As the names might indicate, earplugs are small and can be inserted directly into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your hearing by muting external sound.

  • Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in an environment where the sound is comparatively constant.
  • When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are suggested.

The reasons for that are pretty simple: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are extremely easy to misplace (particularly if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a scenario where you remove an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.

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

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection

Human anatomy is extremely varied. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such a large set of vocal cords and your vocal cords are more normal sized. That’s also why you may have a smaller than normal ear canal.

And that can hinder your ear 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 especially tiny ear canals, you may have a hard time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up completely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

This can leave you exposed to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. The same thing can happen if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. If you’re in a noisy setting regularly, it may be worth investing in custom ear protection customized to your ears.

3. Check Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear

If you’re wearing your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But that also means you need to keep close track of the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.

  • Replace cushions on earmuffs from time to time (typically, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
  • 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.
  • Your hearing protection needs to be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical purpose in your body but it can also build up on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash properly; if you’re cleansing an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.

If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to do regular maintenance on your hearing 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 frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

Your hearing is vital. It’s worth taking the time to protect it properly.

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.