Hearing Health Blog

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What stops your hearing protection from working correctly? Here are 3 things to look out for.

Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you come across something that can impede the effectiveness of your hearing protection. And that can be frustrating. You’re attempting to do the right thing after all. You wear your earmuffs every day while working; you use earplugs when you attend a show; and you avoid your raucous Uncle Joe who is always 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. Luckily, you can take a few steps to protect yourself once you understand what types of things can impede the performance of your ear protection. 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

Hearing protection comes in two standard types: earmuffs and earplugs. Earplugs are little 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 offer protection for your hearing by blocking external sound.

  • When you’re in a setting where noise is fairly constant, earplugs are encouraged.
  • Earmuffs are advised in cases where loud sounds are more intermittent.

There’s a simple reason for that: when there’s no noise, you’ll want to remove you’re hearing protection which is more difficult to do with earplugs than earmuffs. Earplugs take a bit more work to put in and are easy to lose so you may find yourself needing to replace lost plugs when you need them most.

Wear the proper kind of hearing protection in the appropriate situation 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 vocal cords are more normal sized compared to old Uncle Joe’s larger vocal cords. It’s also why your ear canal might be narrower than the average individual’s.

And that can interfere with your hearing protection. Disposable hearing protection is frequently a one size fits all mentality, or at best, a small, medium, large scenario. And so if you have rather tiny ear canals, you may have a tough time making earplugs fit, causing you to give up entirely and throw the earplugs away in frustration.

This can leave you open to risk, undercutting the hearing protection you were trying to give yourself. The same thing can occur if, for instance, your ears are a bit larger, making earmuff style protectors awkward. For individuals who work in noisy environments, a custom fit pair of hearing protection is a smart investment.

3. Examine Your Hearing Protection For Signs of Wear

If you’re using your hearing protection every day, you should give yourself a pat on the back. But day-to-day usage will cause wear and tear to your hearing protection which you need to keep close track of.

  • If you use earmuffs, check the band. The band will need to be changed if the elastic is worn out and doesn’t hold the earmuffs tight.
  • Clean your hearing protection. Earwax serves a practical function in your body but it can also build up on your hearing protection. Just make certain that you wash properly; if you’re washing a set of earmuffs, take apart the earmuffs. Be cautious not to drop your earplugs down the drain.
  • Replace cushions on earmuffs from time to time (typically, when those cushions aren’t pliable, they’re ready for the heave-ho).

Making sure you carry out routine maintenance on your hearing protection is imperative if you want to continue benefiting from that protection. If you have any questions or how to do that, or how to make sure you’re prepared for things that can hinder your hearing protection, it’s a smart idea to have a candid conversation with a highly qualified hearing professional.

Your hearing is important. Taking the time to protect it right is essential.

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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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