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

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

Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can hinder your hearing protection, both at home and at work. And that can be frustrating. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You wear your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you go to a concert; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really enjoy Uncle Joe).

The point is, it can be rather frustrating when you’re doing everything right and still there are challenges. Fortunately, you can take some measures to protect yourself once you know what types of things can impede the performance of your hearing protection. And this will keep your ear protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re having a bit of difficulty.

1. Using The Wrong Type of Ear Protection

There are two useful and standard categories of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs. As the names might imply, earplugs are compact and can be inserted directly inside the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a pair of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they provide protection for your hearing by blocking outside sound.

  • Earplugs are encouraged when you’re in a place where the noise is comparatively constant.
  • When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are suggested.

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 are very easy to misplace (particularly if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a situation where you take out an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.

You will be okay if you wear the proper protection in the appropriate scenario.

2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy

Human anatomy is incredibly diverse. That’s why your vocal cords are average sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. That’s also why you might have a smaller than average ear canal.

And that can hinder your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a clothing mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). And so if you have particularly tiny ear canals, you might 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 situation, you might forsake the hearing protection you were attempting to give yourself, leaving you in danger of hearing damage. The same thing can occur if, for instance, your ears are on the larger size, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For people who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.

3. Check 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 use will cause wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep close track of.

  • Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
  • Clean 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. Be careful not to drop your earplugs down 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 exchange the band.

Making sure you conduct regular maintenance on your hearing protection is vital 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 good idea to have a candid discussion with a highly qualified hearing professional.

You need your hearing. 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.
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