Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re subjected to loud noises, say running a lawnmower in your backyard, going to an arena to see your favorite band in concert, or simply sleeping at home next to a snoring spouse, earplugs can be helpful. Lowering the volume is the way earplugs can help in the first two instances. In the last situation, they low the decibels plus help save your peace of mind (and maybe your relationships) by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being injured by these protectors?

Why Use Earplugs in The First Place?

It’s a fairly simple case for wearing earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can help safeguard your hearing by reducing your exposure to extreme sound levels. Perhaps you’ve observed that your hearing sounds different after you leave a loud venue, say, a football game with a noisy crowd, 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 day or two, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes away.

But if you’re exposed to excessive decibels continually, for instance, if you work on a construction crew or at an airport, the audio attack on those tiny hair cells is relentless. In this case, those hairs never recover, they are permanently damaged. you have just about 16,000 of those little cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be harmed or ruined before your hearing has altered enough for the deficiency to appear in a hearing test.

How Could Earplugs Result in Damage?

When it comes to protecting your ears, it seems like it would be a no-brainer to make use of earplugs. But particularly if you’re in scenarios where you’re exposed to loud noises regularly (like on the job or with the aforementioned snoring partner), headphones that reduce, but don’t entirely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better choice. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off scenarios such as a concert or sporting event than for day to day use.

Why? For one, earwax. In order to protect themselves, your ears generate earwax, and if you’re constantly using earplugs, more earwax will be generated, and you are likely to push it in with the plugs. This can cause problems such as impacted earwax, which can trigger tinnitus and other hearing problems.

An ear infection can be another concern for those who use earplugs. If you continuously wear the same pair, and you don’t clean them between uses, they can become bacteria traps. At the very least, ear infections are a disturbance of your day to day life. If neglected, in the worst situations, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Earplugs nevertheless have a strong upside, whether it’s protecting your hearing or enjoying a restful night’s sleep. You just need to be certain you’re using the right kind and utilizing them the right way. Foam earplugs are the least costly, 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 have to keep them sanitized, use warm water and mild soap to clean them, and you shouldn’t put them back in your ears until they’re totally dry. Buildup of dampness can cause bacteria or mold so store your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

If you want or need to wear earplugs on a regular basis, you may want to consult us about having custom-made earplugs. They are comfortable because they are crafted from molds of your ears and they’re reusable. But it’s worthwhile not to forget, good earplug hygiene can prevent hearing impairment.

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