Hearing Health Blog

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re subjected to loud noises, such as, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two cases, they can assist in safeguarding your hearing by decreasing the volume. They help save your sanity and possibly even your marriage, in the last instance, by letting you get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being injured by these protectors?

Why Utilize Earplugs in The First Place?

The argument for earplugs is pretty simple: When used properly, earplugs can limit your exposure to extreme sound levels and thereby protect your hearing. After you leave a loud venue, like a football game where the announcer keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, every time the opposing team kicks off, you’ve probably observed that your hearing seems different, and you could also experience symptoms of tinnitus. This happens because those super-loud noises actually bend the tiny hair cells in your inner ear. In a day or two, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes away.

But if you’re exposed to high decibels constantly, say you work on a construction site or at an airport, the aural assault on those tiny hair cells is relentless. As opposed to bending and then recovering, the cells are damaged permanently. inside of each cochlea, there are about 16,000 of these tiny hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be injured or ruined before your hearing has changed enough for the problem to show up in a hearing assessment.

Is it Possible to Damage Your Ears by Wearing Earplugs?

That being said, you’d think that wearing earplugs would be a no-brainer with regards to protecting your hearing. But if your exposed to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems even more obvious (like on the job or when your significant other snores as previously stated), headphones that decrease, but don’t entirely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for daily use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions such as a sports event or a concert.

Why? For one, earwax. Your ears create wax to protect themselves, and if wearing earplugs is something you do all of the time, they’re going to create more of it, and you are likely to jam it in with the plugs. Tinnitus and other concerns can be the outcome from impacted earwax.

An ear infection can also be the outcome from too much use of earplugs. They can become bacteria traps if you wear the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. Ear infections are, at a minimum, a painful irritation. If neglected, in the worst cases, they can result in an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Utilize Earplugs?

Earplugs nevertheless have a strong benefit, whether it’s protecting your hearing or getting a restful night’s rest. Using them in the right way and using the right kind is the secret to success. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ sanctuary so it’s a helpful thing they are the least costly. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in until they are totally dry after using warm water to completely clean them. Buildup of humidity can cause bacteria or mold so store your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

If you want or need to use earplugs regularly, you may want to consult us about having custom-made earplugs. These are made from unique molds of your ears, they’re reusable and because they’re fitted to your ears, comfortable. Again though, to avoid any potential hearing problems, it’s important to put into practice good earplug hygiene!

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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