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

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

Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at the job. That’s difficult to deal with. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You use 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 shouting in your ears (although, maybe you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having difficulty, it can be aggravating. Luckily, you can take some measures to protect yourself once you understand what kinds of things can interfere with the performance of your hearing protection. And this will keep your hearing protection working effectively even when you’re experiencing a little difficulty.

1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Hearing Protection

There are two convenient and basic categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are small 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 outside sound.

  • When you’re in a setting where noise is relatively constant, earplugs are suggested.
  • When loud sounds are more sporadic, earmuffs are recommended.

The reasons for that are pretty 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 take a little more work to put in and are easy to lose track of so you might find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.

You will be okay if you use the proper protection in the appropriate situation.

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection

There are many differences in human anatomy from one individual to another. 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 average ear canal.

And that can mess 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 especially tiny ear canals, you might have a difficult time getting those earplugs to fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

This can leave you open to risk, undermining the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself. The same thing can occur if, for example, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For people who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.

3. Assess if There’s Any Wear And Tear on Your Hearing Protection

You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection regularly. But day-to-day usage will result in wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep close track of.

  • Wash your hearing protection. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also collect on your hearing protection. Make certain you clean your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
  • If you use earmuffs, examine the band. The band will need to be exchanged if the elastic is worn out and no longer holds the earmuffs tight.
  • When they lose their flexibility, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.

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 ensure you’re ready for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.

Your hearing is vital. Taking the time to protect it right 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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