3 Things You Should Understand About Hearing Protection

man cutting wood while wearing yellow ear protectors

In recent years there’s been a growing awareness of the importance of proper hearing protection for anyone who finds themselves in loud environments on a regular basis – whether with regards to working in a noisy industrial setting, or with regards to leisure pursuits such as attending concerts.

To this end, ever-more sophisticated forms of earplugs, earmuffs and related items designed for the purpose of hearing protection have been hitting the market and have been growing in popularity.

When this hearing protection is of a high quality, and when it’s used properly, it can be instrumental in helping to prevent hearing loss. Unfortunately, however, there are a variety of different things that can end up negatively affecting your hearing protection and causing it wear and tear that can prevent it from doing its job.

This can be especially frustrating if you’re diligent about using your hearing protection on a regular basis, and consistently make a point of wearing your earmuffs every day while working in our areas or wearing your earplugs when going to see one of your favorite bands with your friends.

Ultimately, it’s possible to be very diligent about wearing your hearing protection, but to still end up being confronted by issues for one reason or another – whether because you’re using the wrong type of hearing protection in the first place, or because your hearing protection has been subject to ongoing wear and tear for some time that you hadn’t noticed was even taking place.

In order to avoid falling into this kind of frustrating situation, there are a few things that you should understand about hearing protection.

It’s Important to Use the Right Type of Hearing Protection for The Setting

Essentially, hearing protection comes in two basic types – earplugs and earmuffs.

As you likely already know, earmuffs are a large item of headwear that may resemble an over-sized pair of headphones. They go over your ears and should essentially cover them entirely in a cup-like fashion.

Earplugs, by contrast, look a lot like the kind of in-ear headphones that most people will use to listen to music when out and about. The difference, though, is that they don’t transmit any sounds and will tend to be more elongated, with inserts that are designed to block up the ear channel.

Earmuffs and earplugs have different basic use cases. Earmuffs are generally recommended for environments where the noise isn’t steady but rather rises and falls and stops and starts. Earplugs, on the other hand, are recommended for settings where the noise is likely to be quite continuous.

Why is this the case?

Well, one simple reason is the fact that when the noise is intermittent, you will likely feel like removing your hearing protection during quiet spells. It’s easier to do this with earmuffs without misplacing them or putting them in your pocket and forgetting to put them back in place when the noise starts. With earplugs, however, there’s a real risk of both of these scenarios occurring.

It’s Important to Use Ear Protection That’s Suited to Your Anatomy

Individual human anatomy can vary substantially, which is part of the reason why there are so many different sizes and styles of shoe out there, for example.

When it comes to ear protection, it’s important to be aware of the fact that you need to ensure your ear protection is properly suited to your individual anatomy.

In practice, what this means is that custom-made ear protection is far and away your best bet, particularly if you routinely find yourself in loud environments for work or as a result of your personal pastimes.

One-size-fits-all forms of ear protection often leave gaps, or don’t provide proper coverage, for one reason or another. Maybe your ear canal is too small for conventional earplugs to achieve a proper seal. Or maybe your ears are too large for earmuffs to sit comfortably and effectively.

Ear Protection Needs to be Checked for Wear and Tear

Wearing your ear protection daily is fantastic and deserves plenty of praise. But as with virtually everything else, the more you wear your ear protection, the more susceptible it can be to wear and tear.

Cleaning your hearing protection on a regular basis is a good first step, not least of all because of accumulating earwax – which can prevent earplugs from sitting in your ears properly, among other things.

Earmuffs also need to be checked for pliability. Do the pads sit tight against your ears? Are the pads still full and damage-free? If not, you should look into repairing or replacing your earmuffs.

If in doubt about the state of your hearing protection, consulting with a qualified audiologist can be a very good idea. Learn more about your options by calling The Hearing Doctors at (630) 315-2899.