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.

Whether you’re at home or at work, sometimes you encounter something that can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And that can be frustrating. After all, you’re trying to do what you’re supposed to do! You put on your earmuffs every day at work; you wear earplugs when you attend a concert; and you stay away from your raucous Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ears (although, perhaps you just don’t really like Uncle Joe).

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having trouble, it can be discouraging. The nice thing is that once you find out about some of these simple issues that can mess with your hearing protection, you can better prepare yourself. And that can ensure that your ear protection works at peak efficiency even when you have some obstacles.

1. Using The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection

There are two convenient and basic categories of ear protection: earplugs and earmuffs. Earplugs are little and, as the name indicates, can be put right into the ear canal. Earmuffs look like a set of 70’s headphones, but instead of music, they offer protection for your hearing by blocking external sound.

  • Earplugs are recommended when you’re in a place where the sound is fairly continuous.
  • Earmuffs are recommended in circumstances where loud sounds are more irregular.

There’s a simple reason 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 lose (particularly 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 okay if you wear the proper protection in the appropriate situation.

2. Your Anatomy Can Impact Your Hearing Protection

Human anatomy is amazingly diverse. That’s why your Uncle Joe has such large vocal cords and you have more normal-sized vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal may be smaller than the average person’s.

This can cause complications with your ear protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large situation. So, maybe you give up in frustration because you have tiny ear canals, and you stop using any ear protection.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may turn away from the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you in danger of hearing damage. The same thing can happen if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors uncomfortable. For individuals who work in loud environments, a custom fit pair of ear protection is a smart investment.

3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Wear And Tear

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

  • Your hearing protection should be kept clean. 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 an earmuff set, take apart the earmuffs. If you’re washing earplugs, don’t drop them down the drain.
  • Replace cushions on earmuffs every now and then (generally, when those cushions are no longer pliable, they’re ready to be replaced).
  • If you use earmuffs, examine the band. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.

If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to perform 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 hinder your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

Your hearing is important. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.

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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.

Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC