Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re exposed to loud noises, such as for example, something as basic as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to a concert at an arena. Turning down the sound level is how earplugs help in the first two situations. They assist in saving your sanity and perhaps even your marriage, in the last instance, by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being harmed by these protectors?

What’s The Point of Wearing Earplugs?

It’s a pretty simple case for using earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can help to protect your hearing by reducing your exposure to extreme sound levels. When you leave a loud venue, like a football game where the Jumbotron keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, when the other team kicks off, you’ve most likely noticed that your hearing seems different, and you may also experience symptoms of tinnitus. Those small hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this happens. It commonly disappears within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to high decibels frequently, for instance, if you work on a construction site or at an airfield, the audio attack on those tiny hair cells is unyielding. In this case, those hairs cannot heal, they are permanently injured. You’ve got around 16,000 of those tiny cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least damaged before you would notice the different in a hearing test.

Is it Possible That Your Ears May be Damaged by Earplugs?

That being said, you’d think that using earplugs would be an obvious choice with regards to protecting your ears. But if your exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or when your spouse snores as previously stated), headphones that limit, but don’t entirely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better idea. Earplugs aren’t well suited to everyday use but are a smarter choice for one off events like a concert or sporting events.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears make earwax, and if wearing earplugs is something you do all of the time, they’re going to generate more of it, and you’ll probably jam it in with the plugs. This can cause problems like impacted earwax, which can trigger tinnitus and other hearing issues.

An ear infection can also result from too much use of earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you wear the same pair but fail to properly clean and disinfect them. Certainly, ear infections can be a disturbance to your day to day life. If neglected, in the worst situations, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Utilize Earplugs?

Earplugs nevertheless have a strong benefit, whether it’s protecting your ears or enjoying a restful night’s rest. Using them in the right way and using the correct kind is the secret to success. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ sanctuary so it’s a good thing that they are the least costly. Wax or silicone earplugs are reusable, but you have to keep them sanitized, wash them with warm water and mild soap to clean them, and don’t put them back in your ears until they’re completely dry. It’s also a good idea to keep earplugs in a well ventilated container to discourage moisture, or worse, bacteria or mold, from accumulating.

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

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