Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial 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. Bringing down the sound level is how earplugs can help in the first two circumstances. In the last circumstances, they decrease the sound levels plus help protect your sanity (and maybe your relationships) by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being damaged by these protectors?

Why Utilize Earplugs at All?

It’s a pretty simple argument for wearing earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can help protect your hearing by reducing your direct exposure to excessive decibel levels. Maybe you’ve observed that your hearing seems different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a loud crowd, and you may also experience symptoms of tinnitus. Those small hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s why this occurs. It often goes away within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to excessive decibels regularly, say you work on a construction crew or at an airfield, the audio assault on those tiny hair cells is unrelenting. Instead of bending and then recovering, the cells are damaged permanently. Inside each cochlea, there are about 16,000 of these tiny hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least damaged before you would see the different in a hearing exam.

How Might Your Ears be Injured by Wearing Earplugs?

With all that, you’d think that using earplugs would be an obvious choice with regards to protecting your ears. But if your exposed to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems even more obvious (like on the job or with the previously mentioned snoring partner), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs aren’t well suited to everyday use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions like a concert or sporting events.

Why? For one, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears produce earwax, and if you’re constantly wearing earplugs, more earwax will be generated, and you’ll probably jam it in with the plugs. This can cause problems like impacted earwax, which can trigger tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

Ear infections can also be the result from overuse of earplugs. If you continually use the same pair, and you don’t clean them properly from use to use, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Ear infections are, at a minimum, a painful annoyance. If neglected, in the worst cases, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Safely?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a formidable positive to using earplugs. Using them in the right way and using the most appropriate kind is the key to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is helpful because you really should not reuse them, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s haven. Wax or silicone earplugs are reusable, but you need to keep them clean, wash them with warm water and mild soap to clean them, and you shouldn’t put them back in your ears until they’re thoroughly dry. Accumulation of moisture can cause mold and bacteria so store your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

If you want or need to use earplugs on a regular basis, you may want to get in touch with us about getting custom-made earplugs. These are crafted from unique molds of your ears, they can be reused and since they’re fitted to your ears, their comfortable. Again though, to stop any possible hearing damage, it’s essential to practice good earplug hygiene!

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