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Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re exposed to loud noises, like, something as simple as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to a concert at an arena. Lowering the volume is how earplugs help in the first two situations. In the last situation, they low the sound levels plus help protect your sanity (and maybe your marriage) by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, injuring your hearing?

What’s The Point of Using Earplugs?

It’s a pretty simple argument for using earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can limit your exposure to excessive volume levels and thereby safeguard your hearing. Maybe you’ve observed that your hearing seems different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a loud crowd, and you might also experience symptoms of tinnitus. Those tiny hairs are bent by this kind of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes away.

But in a few particular circumstances, there is a constant attack on those little hairs, particularly if you work in a noisy profession such as construction or in an airport. Rather than bending and then recovering, the cells are damaged permanently. You’ve got around 16,000 of those little cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be ruined or at least injured before you would see the different in a hearing test.

Is it Conceivable to Injure Your Ears by Wearing Earplugs?

That being said, you’d think that wearing earplugs would be a no-brainer when it comes to protecting your ears. But if your subjected to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or when your spouse snores as mentioned), headphones that limit, but don’t completely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for day to day use but are a smarter choice for one time events like a sports event or a concert.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears produce earwax, and if you’re constantly wearing earplugs, more earwax will be produced, and the earplugs will push it in further. Tinnitus and other concerns can be the result of impacted earwax.

An ear infection can also be the consequence from too much use of earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you regularly wear the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. At the very least, ear infections are a disturbance to your life. If neglected, in the worst cases, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a big positive to wearing earplugs. You just have to be certain you’re using the correct kind and using them the right way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ paradise so it’s a good thing that they are the least expensive. Don’t put wax or silicone earplugs back in your ears until they are completely dry after using warm water to completely clean them. Buildup of moisture can cause mold and bacteria so keep your earplugs in a well ventilated container.

You may want to talk to us about custom fit earplugs if you need or want them regularly. They are comfortable since they’re crafted from molds of your ears and they are reusable. But it’s crucial not to forget, smart earplug hygiene can prevent hearing damage.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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