Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re subjected to loud noises, such as for example, something as simple as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to an arena to see a concert. Decreasing the volume is how earplugs help in the first two circumstances. They help save your peace of mind and possibly even your marriage, in the last situation, by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being injured by these protectors?

What’s The Purpose of Using Earplugs?

It’s a fairly simple argument for using earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can reduce your exposure to extreme noise levels and thereby safeguard your hearing. When you leave a loud place, like a football game where the announcer keeps exhorting the crowd to, GET LOUD, whenever the opposing team kicks off, you’ve most likely noticed that your hearing seems off, and you could also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those super-loud sounds can actually bend the tiny hair cells inside your inner ear. It commonly vanishes within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But in a few particular situations, there is a persistent assault on those tiny hairs, this is especially true if you work in a noisy trade like construction or around jet planes. Instead of recovering after bending, the cells are permanently damaged. There are about 16,000 of those tiny cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be ruined or at least injured before you would notice the change in a hearing test.

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

With all that, you’d think that wearing earplugs would be a no-brainer when it comes to protecting your ears. But primarily if you’re in scenarios where you’re exposed to loud noises all the time (like on the job or with the above mentioned snoring spouse), headphones that reduce, but don’t completely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better idea. Earplugs aren’t well suited to everyday use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions such as a concert or sporting events.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. In order to protect themselves, your ears generate earwax, and if you’re frequently wearing earplugs, more earwax will be produced, and you probably will jam it in with the plugs. Tinnitus and other concerns can be the result of impacted earwax.

Ear infections can be another issue for people who wear earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you regularly wear the same pair but fail to properly clean and disinfect them. At the very least, ear infections can be a disturbance of your life. If neglected, in the worst instances, they can result in an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Utilize Earplugs?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or protecting your hearing, there’s still a big positive to wearing earplugs. Using them in the proper way and using the right kind is the secret to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is helpful because you really shouldn’t use them more than once, the soft, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put wax or silicone earplugs back in until they are thoroughly dry after utilizing warm water to entirely sanitize them. Accumulation of dampness can cause mold and bacteria so store your earplugs in a well ventilated container.

You may want to contact us about custom fit earplugs if you want or need them regularly. They’re comfortable since they are crafted from molds of your ears and they are reusable. Again though, to protect against any potential hearing problems, it’s essential to practice good earplug hygiene!

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