Do’s and Don’ts When Selecting Ear Protection

smiling gentleman in plaid shirt is wearing over the head ear protection

The human ear is very delicate, and being surrounded by loud noise can cause damage to the sensitive parts of the ear that enhance your hearing. Therefore, you must protect your ears from loud sounds, whether in your working environment or enjoying hobbies such as listening to music. Ear protection varies from earplugs to noise cancellation headphones. However, before you select ear protection, it is essential to know the dos and don’ts.

Know what and why you need it

Before you select your ear protection, you must know what you need it for. This ensures that you select the form of protection that would protect your ear from the dangers associated with being around loud noise. As stated earlier, there are several hearing protection options to choose from. These include earmuffs, earplugs, and semi-earplugs. To know what form of ear protection you would need, you must consider your lifestyle. For example, some workplaces require workers to wear ear, head, and eye protection. However, it would be preferable to wear earplugs as headphones may be impossible to put on in such an instance.

Do check for the noise reduction rating

To ensure that you selected ear protection that would be effective for its purpose, you must check its noise reduction rating. There is a common misconception that every form of ear protection provides the user with an equal amount of protection. Unfortunately, this is misleading. Each kind of ear protection varies in protection. For example, a construction worker who works with, or around, heavy and loud machines would prefer using earmuffs or noise-canceling headphones as they have a noise reduction rating above 30%. On the other hand, a light sleeper would prefer to use ear protection such as earplugs which offer a noise reduction rating of about 20%. 

Do consider your comfort

Once you are sure of your preferred ear protection option, it is essential to test its comfortability. You must ensure that you are comfortable in your ear protection equipment as you may be wearing it for an extended period. If you have various possible ear protection options, you should test each of them to select which one would be comfortable. For example, although earplugs may provide you with some ear protection, they can be uncomfortable to use if you have a narrow or oddly shaped canal. Therefore, you may find headphones more preferable and effective to use. 

You must also ensure that your selected hearing protection fits in your ear probably. For example, using gadgets that are too huge may slip, exposing you to the external noise you are trying to avoid. Likewise, in-ear protection such as earplugs must be tight but not so much as to cause you to take out and expose your ears to damaging noise due to the discomfort.

Don’t share ear protection

It may seem harmless, but using second-hand or sharing ear protection is not advisable. The ear canal is sensitive to contracting an infection. Earwax usually prevents bacteria causing infections from traveling down the canal. However, by sharing ear protection such as earplugs, you would be introducing your ear to more bacteria making it a little challenging for earwax to offer protection. Although most of the bacteria exchanged from sharing ear protection is harmless, the risk of developing ear infections such as swimmer’s ear, fungus, and middle ear infections is very plausible. 

Don’t overlook visiting your audiologist

You must consult your audiologist for advice on the best ear protection devices you should wear. An audiologist is well vested in knowledge concerning the various ear protection options, their uses, and their effectiveness. This puts them in the best position to offer you reliable information. More importantly, their wealth of knowledge enables them to give you tailored advice to ensure that you know the right actions to select an ear protection option that brings positive results.

Ear protection provides adequate protection from loud noises that could cause preventable hearing problems. However, not taking the proper steps may lead to selecting ear protection that is not effective for the circumstance or environment it is being used in. Therefore, it is vital to consider the above dos and don’ts to guide you. In addition to this, you should visit your local audiologist for more information.

To find out more about the dangers of noise to your hearing health and the proper ear protection to suit your needs, contact Flynn Associates at (978) 369-6666 (for Concord residents) and (781) 235-8110 (for residents in Wellesley).