3 Things You Should Understand About Hearing Protection

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

Is your hearing protection failing to protect your hearing? Look out 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 work. That’s hard to cope with. You’re trying to do the right thing after all. When you go to a concert, you use your earplugs; At work, you wear earmuffs every day; and you try to steer clear of Uncle Joe who is constantly yelling in your ear.

Here’s the point, when you’re doing everything right but you’re still having trouble, it can be frustrating. Luckily, you can take a few measures to protect yourself once you know what types of things can interfere with the performance of your ear protection. And this will keep your hearing protection in a state of efficiency even when you’re experiencing a little trouble.

1. Wearing The Wrong Kind of Ear Protection

There are two useful 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 are like big headphones with no sound (instead, they, you know, protect your hearing).

  • When you’re in a scenario where sound is fairly constant, earplugs are suggested.
  • Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more sporadic.

The reasons for that are fairly obvious: you’ll want to remove your ear protection when it isn’t noisy, and that’s easier to do with earmuffs than earplugs. Earplugs are extremely easy to misplace (particularly if they’re cheap and disposable anyway), so you don’t want to be in a scenario where you take out an earplug, lose it, and then need it later.

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

2. Your Anatomy Can Affect Your Ear Protection

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

And that can hinder your ear protection. Disposable earplugs, for instance, are made with a t-shirt mindset: small, medium, and large (if not one-size-fits-all). And so if you have particularly tiny ear canals, you may have a difficult time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and in frustration, throw them away..

If you find yourself in this situation, you may forsake the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself, leaving you at risk of hearing damage. The same thing can occur if, for example, 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. Check Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

If you’re wearing your hearing protection daily, you should give yourself a gold star. But that also means you need to monitor the wear and tear your ear protection is experiencing.

  • When they lose their pliability, replace the cushions on your earmuffs.
  • 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). Make certain you clean your hearing protection completely by taking them apart before you cleanse them. Be careful not to drop your earplugs into the drain.
  • If you use earmuffs, examine the band. When the elastic is worn out and the band is failing to hold the earmuffs snug, it’s time to exchange the band.

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 ensure you’re prepared for things that can mess with your hearing protection, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

You need your hearing. It’s worth taking the time to protect it right.

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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    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

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