Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re exposed to loud sounds, such as for example, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two instances, they can help safeguard your hearing by turning down the volume. In the last instance, they bring down the sound levels plus help protect your peace of mind (and maybe your relationships) by allowing you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being harmed by these protectors?

What’s The Point of Utilizing Earplugs?

The argument for earplugs is quite simple: When used properly, earplugs can reduce your exposure to excessive sound levels and thereby shield your ears. When you leave a loud place, like a football game where the announcer keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, every time the other team kicks off, you’ve most likely observed that your hearing seems different, and you could also experience symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those extremely loud sounds can actually bend the tiny hair cells inside your inner ear. It usually goes away within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to high decibels continually, say you work on a construction crew or at an airport, the audio assault on those tiny hair cells is relentless. As opposed to bending and then recovering, the cells are permanently compromised. you have around 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 exam.

How Could Your Hearing be Injured by Using Earplugs?

With all that, you’d think that using earplugs would be a no-brainer with regards to protecting your ears. But primarily if you’re in situations where you’re exposed to loud noises every day (like on the job or with the aforementioned snoring partner), headphones that decrease, but don’t completely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for daily use but are better suited to one off occasions like a sports event or a concert.

Why? For one, earwax. Your ears generate wax to defend themselves, and if you’re frequently using earplugs, they’re going to make more of it, and the earplugs will jam it in further. This can result in problems such as impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

An ear infection can be another complication for those who wear earplugs. If you continually wear the same pair, and you don’t clean them properly between uses, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Certainly, ear infections are a disturbance of your day to day life. But at the negative end of the spectrum, they can also cause hearing loss if you fail to get treatment.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Safely?

Earplugs still have a strong positive, whether it’s protecting your hearing or getting a good night’s sleep. You just have to be sure you’re using the proper kind and using them in the proper way. Foam earplugs are the least costly, 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 your ears until they are completely dry after utilizing warm water to entirely sanitize them. Accumulation of dampness can cause bacteria or mold so keep your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

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

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