Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re exposed to loud noises, for instance using a lawnmower in your backyard, going to a venue to see your favorite band in concert, or merely sleeping in your own bed next to a snoring spouse, earplugs may be practical. In the first two situations, they can help safeguard your ears by turning down the volume. They help save your sanity and possibly even your marriage, in the last circumstances, by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, hurting your ears?

What’s The Point of Utilizing Earplugs?

It’s a pretty simple argument for wearing earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can reduce your exposure to excessive sound 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 other team kicks off, you’ve probably noticed that your hearing seems off, and you may also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those little hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it usually goes away.

But if you’re subjected to extreme decibels constantly, say you work on a construction crew or at an airfield, the audio attack on those tiny hair cells is unyielding. Instead of bending and then recovering, the cells are damaged permanently. There are about 16,000 of those little cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least injured before you would notice the change in a hearing test.

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

With regards to protecting your hearing, it seems like it would be a no-brainer to use earplugs. But if your subjected to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or with the above mentioned snoring significant other), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a smarter choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for day to day use but are a smarter choice for one time events such as a sports event or a concert.

Why? For one, earwax. Your ears produce wax to protect themselves, and if you’re always using earplugs, more earwax will be produced, and the earplugs will jam it in further. This can lead to issues such as impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing disorders.

An ear infection can be another complication for those who wear earplugs. If you continually wear the same pair, and you fail to clean them between uses, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Ear infections are, at a minimum, an uncomfortable inconvenience. If left untreated, in the worst situations, they can result in an ear infection.

How Can You Utilize Earplugs Without Risk?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or protecting your hearing, there’s still a strong positive to wearing earplugs. You just need to be sure you’re using the proper kind and utilizing them the right way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ haven so it’s a good thing that they are the least expensive. Silicone or wax earplugs are reusable, but you have to keep them sanitized, use warm water and mild soap to wash them, and don’t put them back in your ears until they’re totally dry. It’s also a good plan to keep earplugs in a well ventilated container to prevent moisture, or worse, bacteria or mold, from building up.

If you need or want to use earplugs regularly, you might want to get in touch with us about getting custom-made earplugs. They are comfortable because they’re crafted from molds of your ears and they’re reusable. But it’s essential not to forget, smart earplug hygiene can stop hearing damage.

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