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Is your hearing protection failing to protect your hearing? Here are 3 things to look out for.

Despite your best attempts, you can sometimes encounter things that can mess with your hearing protection, both at home and at work. And that can be discouraging. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. You use your earmuffs every day at work; you wear earplugs when you attend a show; and you avoid your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly shouting in your ears (although, maybe 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 aggravating. The nice thing is that once you find out about some of these simple issues that can interfere with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And that can ensure that your ear protection works at peak effectiveness even when you have some obstacles.

1. Using The Wrong Kind of Hearing Protection

There are two handy and standard categories of ear protection: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are small and, as the name suggests, can be inserted right into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of tunes, they provide protection for your ears by blocking external sound.

  • When you’re in a scenario where noise is relatively constant, earplugs are encouraged.
  • When loud sounds are more intermittent, earmuffs are recommended.

The reasons for that are pretty obvious: you’ll want to remove your hearing protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s less difficult to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are very easy to misplace (particularly if they’re inexpensive and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a position where you take out an earplug, misplace it, and then need it later.

Use the proper form of hearing protection in the appropriate scenario and you should be fine.

2. Your Hearing Protection Can be Impacted by Your Anatomy

There are many differences in human anatomy from person to person. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such a large set of vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average individual’s.

This can cause issues with your hearing protection. Disposable earplugs, for example, are made with a t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (even sometimes one-size-fits-all). And so if you have especially tiny ear canals, you may have a difficult time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up completely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

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. Another instance of this is individuals with large ears who frequently have a difficult time getting earmuffs to fit comfortably. For individuals who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a good investment.

3. Check Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

You should be commended if you manage to wear your hearing protection every day. But that also means you need to keep close track of the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.

  • Your hearing protection should be kept clean. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also build up on your hearing protection. Just make sure that you wash correctly; if you’re cleansing an earmuff set, take the earmuffs apart. If you’re rinsing earplugs, don’t drop them into the drain.
  • Replace cushions on earmuffs every once in a while (generally, when those cushions aren’t 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 replace the band.

Making sure you carry out routine maintenance on your hearing protection is imperative 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 take care of your hearing protection or want to know more about the things that can impede their performance.

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.