Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re exposed to loud noises, like, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to an arena to see a concert. In the first two cases, they can help protect your hearing by decreasing the volume. They help save your peace of mind and possibly even your relationships, in the last instance, by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, harming your hearing?

What’s The Point of Utilizing Earplugs?

The argument for earplugs is quite simple: When used properly, earplugs can minimize your exposure to extreme sound levels and thereby protect your ears. 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 have symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those super-loud sounds actually bend the tiny hair cells in your inner ear. It usually vanishes within a couple of days, because the hair cells have recovered.

But in a number of instances, there is a continual assault on those tiny hairs, particularly if you work in a noisy trade like construction or in an airport. In this situation, those hairs cannot heal, they are permanently injured. You’ve got around 16,000 of those little cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be damaged or ruined before your hearing has changed enough for the deficiency to show up in a hearing exam.

How Can Your Hearing be Injured by Using Earplugs?

With all that, you’d think that using earplugs would be a no-brainer in terms of protecting your ears. But primarily if you’re in scenarios where you’re exposed to loud noises on a regular basis (like on the job or with the aforementioned snoring spouse), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for daily use but are a smarter choice for one time occasions such as a sports event or a concert.

Why? For one, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears generate earwax, and if you’re constantly wearing earplugs, more earwax will be generated, 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 result from too much use of earplugs. If you repeatedly use the same pair, and you don’t clean them from use to use, they can become bacteria traps. Ear infections are, at the very least, an uncomfortable annoyance. If neglected, in the worst situations, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or safeguarding your ears, there’s still a strong upside to wearing earplugs. Using them in the right way and using the correct kind is the secret to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is good because you really should not reuse them, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in your ears until they are totally dry after utilizing warm water to completely clean them. Accumulation of moisture can cause mold and bacteria so keep your earplugs in a well ventilated container.

If you need or want to use earplugs regularly, you may want to talk to us about having custom-made earplugs. They’re comfortable since they are made from molds of your ears and they’re reusable. But it’s essential not to forget, good earplug hygiene can prevent hearing damage.

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