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

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

Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you come across something that can interfere with the effectiveness of your hearing protection. That’s hard to deal with. After all, you’re striving to do what you’re supposed to do! You use your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you go to a show; and you stay away from your loud Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything correctly but you’re still having problems, it can be frustrating. The nice thing is that once you know about a few of these simple problems that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can prepare yourself better. And this will keep your ear protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re having a little difficulty.

1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection

There are two useful and basic categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might suggest, 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 offer protection for your ears by blocking external sound.

  • When you’re in a setting where sound is fairly constant, earplugs are recommended.
  • When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are recommended.

There’s a simple explanation for that: when there’s no noise, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is harder to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs are incredibly easy to misplace (especially if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you remove an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.

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

2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Affected by Your Anatomy

There are many variables in human anatomy from one individual to another. That’s why your vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average person’s.

And that can mess with your hearing protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. So, perhaps you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you quit using any ear protection.

This can leave you exposed to risk, undermining 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 uncomfortable. For individuals who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.

3. Check Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear

You should be commended if you manage to use your hearing protection regularly. But day-to-day use will lead to wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to monitor.

  • Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (typically, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).
  • Wash your hearing protection. 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 washing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. Be mindful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
  • Check the band on earmuff protection. When the elastic is worn out and the band is no longer holding the earmuffs snug, it’s time to replace the band.

Making sure you do 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 impede their performance.

Your hearing is important. Taking the time to protect it properly is worthwhile.

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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.