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Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re exposed to loud sounds, such as for instance, something as straightforward as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two circumstances, they can assist in protecting your hearing by decreasing the volume. They help save your peace of mind and perhaps even your marriage, in the last circumstances, by allowing you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, injuring your ears?

Why Use Earplugs at All?

It’s a pretty simple case for using earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can minimize your exposure to excessive noise levels and thereby shield your ears. When you leave a loud venue, say a football game where the Jumbotron keeps exhorting the crowd to, GET LOUD, every time the opposing team kicks off, you’ve probably noticed that your hearing seems different, and you may also have symptoms of tinnitus. Those small hairs are bent by this type of noise exposure and that’s why this happens. In a day or two, when the hairs have recovered, it usually goes away.

But in a few particular situations, there is a continual attack on those little hairs, especially if you work in a noisy industry like the music business or in an airport. In this situation, those hairs never get better, they are permanently damaged. You’ve got about 16,000 of those tiny cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be ruined or at least injured before you would notice the different in a hearing assessment.

How Could Your Ears be Injured by Wearing Earplugs?

In terms of safeguarding your hearing, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to wear earplugs. But if your subjected to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems even more obvious (like on the job or with the previously mentioned snoring significant other), headphones that decrease, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter choice. Earplugs are better suited to one-off situations like a concert or sporting event than for everyday use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears create wax to defend themselves, and if you’re frequently using earplugs, more earwax will be created, and the earplugs will jam it in further. Tinnitus and other concerns can be the result of impacted earwax.

An ear infection can be another issue for people who use earplugs. If you continuously use the same pair, and you fail to clean them properly from use to use, they can become bacteria traps. Ear infections are, at a minimum, a painful annoyance. If left untreated, in the worst instances, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Without Risk?

Earplugs still have a strong benefit, whether it’s protecting your ears or getting a restful night’s sleep. Using them in the proper way and using the right kind is the key to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is good because you really shouldn’t reuse them, the soft, porous material is a germ’s haven. Silicone or wax earplugs are reusable, but you have to keep them sanitized, wash them with warm water and mild soap to cleanse them, and don’t put them back in your ears until they’re thoroughly dry. It’s also a good plan to store earplugs in a ventilated place to discourage moisture, or worse, bacteria or mold, from accumulating.

You may want to talk to us concerning custom fit earplugs if you need or want them on a regular basis. These are constructed from unique molds of your ears, they’re reusable and since they’re fitted to your ears, comfortable. Again though, to stop any possible hearing problems, it’s crucial to practice smart earplug hygiene!

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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