Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re subjected to loud noises, for instance running a lawnmower in your yard, going to an arena to see your favorite band in concert, or merely sleeping at home next to a snoring spouse, earplugs might be practical. Bringing down the sound level is the way earplugs can help in the first two circumstances. In the last case, they reduce the sound levels and help save your sanity (and possibly your relationships) by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being harmed by these protectors?

Why Use Earplugs at All?

It’s a fairly simple argument for wearing earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can limit your exposure to extreme sound levels and thereby safeguard your ears. When you leave a loud place, say a football game where the Jumbotron keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, whenever the other team kicks off, you’ve probably noticed that your hearing seems off, and you may also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those small hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s why this happens. It often disappears within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to high decibels continuously, say you work on a construction site or at an airport, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is constant. As opposed to bending and then recovering, the cells are damaged permanently. Inside each cochlea, you have approximately 16,000 of these tiny hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be ruined or at least damaged before you would see the change in a hearing assessment.

Is it Conceivable to Injure Your Ears by Wearing Earplugs?

That being said, you’d think that using earplugs would be an obvious choice with regards to protecting your ears. But if your subjected to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or with the previously mentioned snoring spouse), headphones that limit, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter idea. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off situations such as a sporting event or concert than for day to day use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears make earwax, and if you’re constantly wearing earplugs, more earwax will be created, and the earplugs will jam it in further. Tinnitus and other issues can be the result of impacted earwax.

Ear infections can also result from too much use of earplugs. They can become bacteria traps if you wear the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. At the very least, ear infections can be a disruption to your life. But at the negative end of the scale, they can also result in a loss of hearing if left untreated.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Safely?

Earplugs nevertheless have a strong positive, whether it’s safeguarding your ears or enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep. Using them in the proper way and using the most appropriate kind is the key to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is helpful because you really shouldn’t use them more than once, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in your ears until they are thoroughly dry after utilizing warm water to entirely clean them. It’s also a good plan to keep earplugs in a well ventilated container to discourage humidity, or worse, bacteria or mold, from building up.

You might want to contact us about custom fit earplugs if you want or need them frequently. These are made from unique molds of your ears, they can be reused and because they’re fitted to your ears, their comfortable. But it’s crucial not to forget, smart earplug hygiene can lessen hearing damage.

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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