Hearing Health Blog

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re subjected to loud noises, like, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two situations, they can help safeguard your ears by turning down the volume. In the last situation, they reduce the sound levels plus help save your sanity (and maybe your marriage) by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, actually, causing damage to your hearing?

What’s The Point of Wearing Earplugs?

The argument for earplugs is pretty simple: When used properly, earplugs can help protect your ears by reducing your direct exposure to excessive decibel levels. When you leave a loud venue, say a football game where the announcer keeps exhorting the crowd to, GET LOUD, every time the other team kicks off, you’ve probably noticed that your hearing seems off, and you might also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those tiny hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes away.

But if you’re subjected to excessive decibels continually, say you work on a construction site or at an airfield, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is constant. In this situation, those hairs don’t get better, they are permanently damaged. inside of each cochlea, there are about 16,000 of these little hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be damaged or ruined before your hearing has altered enough for the problem to appear in a hearing exam.

Is it Possible That Your Hearing Could be Harmed by Earplugs?

When it comes to protecting your hearing, you’d think it would be obvious to utilize earplugs. But primarily if you’re in situations where you’re subjected to loud noises all the time (like on the job or when your significant other snores as mentioned), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off scenarios such as a sporting event or concert than for regular use.

Why? For one, earwax. Your ears generate wax to defend themselves, and if wearing earplugs is something you do regularly, more earwax will be produced, and you probably will jam it in with the plugs. Tinnitus and other issues can be the outcome from impacted earwax.

Ear infections can also result from overuse of earplugs. If you repeatedly wear the same pair, and you don’t clean them between uses, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Ear infections are, at a minimum, a painful irritation. If left untreated, in the worst instances, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Utilize Earplugs?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or protecting your ears, there’s still a big upside to using earplugs. You just have to be sure you’re using the correct kind and using them in the proper way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ haven so it’s a helpful thing that they are the least costly. Silicone or wax earplugs are reusable, but you need to keep them sanitized, use warm water and mild soap to cleanse them, and you shouldn’t put them back in your ears until they’re thoroughly dry. It’s also a good plan to store earplugs in a ventilated container to prevent moisture, or worse, mold or bacteria, from accumulating.

If you need or want to wear earplugs regularly, you may want to talk to us about having custom-made earplugs. These are crafted from unique molds of your ears, they can be reused and because they’re fitted to your ears, their comfortable. Again though, to protect against any possible hearing problems, it’s essential to put into practice good earplug hygiene!

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