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Picture this: you’re working in a noisy environment, wearing your trusty hearing aids to enhance your hearing and provide connection to your cell phone. Suddenly, you realize the need for additional hearing protection and reach for a pair of earmuffs. But wait, can you use earmuffs with your hearing aids? How do you ensure optimal hearing protection without compromising your ability to hear?
Understanding the Challenge of Hearing Aids and Hearing Protection
It is important to note that earmuffs are designed to reduce sound while hearing aids are meant to amplify sound. In most cases, it is logical to remove your hearing aids when wearing hearing protection such as earmuffs. After all, you do not need to amplify the sound that you are trying to reduce. I always recommend to my patients not to wear hearing aids and hearing protection at the same time. But there are patients who persist in doing so.
There may be certain situations where it might be acceptable to wear both hearing aids and earmuffs. For example, if you need to communicate with others or be aware of certain sounds while still protecting your hearing from excessive noise or using your hearing aids to stream music under the earmuffs. In such cases, it is advisable to consult with your audiologist for guidance on finding the right balance between hearing amplification and protection.
Using earmuffs with hearing aids can present some unique challenges. The primary concern is ensuring that the hearing aids do not interfere with the functionality of the hearing protection or vice versa. Earmuffs can inadvertently press buttons or adjust volume controls on the hearing aids, they can also put pressure on the ear creating a sore spot.
Additionally, earmuffs can create a tight seal around the ears, potentially causing feedback or whistling sounds in the hearing aids. This interference can compromise the overall hearing experience and defeat the purpose of wearing hearing aids in the first place.
If you’re an avid hunter, you know the importance of protecting your hearing while out in the field. Wearing hearing protection can significantly reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss caused by firearms and other loud sounds. If you’re interested in learning more about wearing hearing protection while hunting, check out our article here. It provides valuable insights and tips to ensure you can enjoy your hunting experience while safeguarding your hearing.
Finding Compatible Earmuffs
When selecting earmuffs, it is crucial to choose a pair that is compatible with your hearing aids. Look for earmuffs that have a wide enough ear cup to accommodate the size of your hearing aids comfortably. Adjustable earmuffs with different sizes or removable ear cushions can be particularly useful in achieving a proper fit.
Consider earmuffs with a low-profile design to minimize interference with the hearing aids. Some earmuffs are specifically designed with a cutout or recessed area to accommodate the position of the hearing aid behind the ear.
Proper Placement of Earmuffs Over Hearing Aids
Proper placement of earmuffs is essential to ensure optimal hearing protection. When putting on earmuffs, make sure they are positioned over the hearing aids without pressing any buttons or controls. Adjust the earmuffs to create a secure seal around the ears without causing discomfort or interference.
If you wear behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, try wearing the earmuffs slightly higher on your head to avoid direct pressure on the hearing aids. For in-the-ear (ITE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids, ensure that the earmuffs do not dislodge or push the hearing aids out of place.
Adjusting Hearing Aid Settings
To compensate for the additional noise reduction provided by earmuffs, you may need to make adjustments to your hearing aid settings. Some hearing aids have specific programs or settings for noisy environments but this is done by directional microphones which will not work under headphones.
Consult with your hearing healthcare professional to determine the best settings for your specific hearing aids. They can guide you in adjusting the volume, noise reduction, or microphone directionality to optimize your hearing experience while using earmuffs.
Communication can become challenging when wearing both hearing aids and earmuffs. Here are some strategies to improve communication in noisy environments:
- Face the speaker: Position yourself to face the person you are communicating with to maximize lip-reading and visual cues.
- Use visual aids: Utilize gestures, facial expressions, and visual cues to enhance understanding.
- Ask for repetition or clarification: Don’t hesitate to ask the speaker to repeat or clarify information if you are having difficulty understanding.
- Consider assistive listening devices: Explore the use of assistive listening devices, such as FM systems or Bluetooth accessories, to stream audio directly to your hearing aids and bypass the interference caused by earmuffs.
Maintenance and Care
Proper maintenance and care of both your hearing aids and earmuffs are essential to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Clean your hearing aids regularly: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance. Keep the hearing aids free from debris, moisture, and earwax buildup. Change the wax trap at least monthly.
- Clean earmuffs as needed: Wipe down the earmuffs with a clean, damp cloth to remove any dirt or sweat. Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage the earmuffs.
- Store hearing aids and earmuffs properly: When not in use, store your hearing aids in a dry, protective case. Store earmuffs in a clean, dry area away from extreme temperatures or direct sunlight.
- Inspect for damage: Regularly check your hearing aids and earmuffs for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice any issues, consult with your hearing healthcare professional for repairs or replacements.
Protecting your hearing is of utmost importance, especially in noisy environments. By understanding the challenges and following the tips provided in this guide, you can successfully use earmuffs with your hearing aids while ensuring optimal hearing protection.
Remember, finding the right combination of hearing aids and earmuffs may require some trial and error. Consult with your hearing healthcare professional for personalized guidance and recommendations. With the right approach, you can enjoy enhanced hearing and effective hearing protection simultaneously!