HEARING TIPS

Are Your Ears Benefited by Earplugs

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 simply sleeping at home beside a snoring spouse, earplugs may be practical. Turning down the volume is the way earplugs help in the first two circumstances. In the last case, they reduce the sound levels and help save your sanity (and maybe your relationships) by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being damaged by these protectors?

What’s The Point of Wearing Earplugs?

The case for earplugs is pretty simple: When used properly, earplugs can limit your exposure to excessive sound levels and thereby shield your hearing. Perhaps you’ve observed that your hearing sounds different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a loud crowd, and you could also experience symptoms of tinnitus. Those tiny hairs are bent by this kind of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. It often vanishes within a couple of days, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to high decibels regularly, say you work on a construction crew or at an airfield, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is unrelenting. In this instance, those hairs never recover, they are permanently injured. Inside each cochlea, there are around 16,000 of these little hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be injured or ruined before your hearing has altered enough for the problem to show up in a hearing assessment.

How Can Earplugs Lead to Damage?

In terms of safeguarding your hearing, it seems like it would be a no-brainer to make use of earplugs. But particularly if you’re in scenarios where you’re subjected to loud noises all the time (like on the job or when your spouse snores as previously stated), headphones that limit, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better choice. Earplugs aren’t well suited to day to day use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions such as a sports event or a concert.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears make wax to protect themselves, and if you’re frequently using earplugs, more earwax will be created, and the earplugs will push it in further. This can cause problems like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing disorders.

Ear infections can also result from overuse of earplugs. If you frequently use the same pair, and you fail to clean them properly between uses, they can become bacteria traps. At the very least, ear infections can be a disruption to your day to day life. If neglected, in the worst instances, they can trigger an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Earplugs nevertheless have a strong positive, whether it’s safeguarding your hearing or getting a peaceful night’s rest. You just have to be certain you’re using the proper kind and using them in the proper way. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is helpful because you really shouldn’t reuse them, the soft, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put wax or silicone earplugs back in until they are thoroughly dry after using warm water to completely clean them. It’s also a good plan to keep earplugs in a well ventilated container to discourage humidity, or worse, bacteria or mold, from accumulating.

If you want or need to use earplugs regularly, you might want to consult us about having custom-made earplugs. They are comfortable since they’re made from molds of your ears and they are reusable. Again though, to avoid any possible hearing damage, it’s essential to practice smart earplug hygiene!

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