Earplugs can be helpful if you’re exposed to loud sounds, 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. In the first two instances, they can assist in safeguarding your hearing by decreasing the volume. In the last instance, they low the sound levels plus help save your sanity (and possibly your relationships) by allowing you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, actually, causing harm to your hearing?
Why Utilize Earplugs in The First Place?
It’s a fairly simple case for using earplugs: Properly used, earplugs can limit your exposure to excessive noise levels and thereby shield your ears. 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 sort of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. It often disappears within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.
But in a number of instances, there is a relentless attack on those tiny hairs, this is especially true if you work in a high volume industry such as construction or in an airport. In this case, those hairs don’t recover, they are permanently damaged. There are about 16,000 of those tiny cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be ruined or at least injured before you would see the different in a hearing exam.
Is it Conceivable to Injure Your Hearing by Wearing Earplugs?
In terms of protecting your ears, it seems like it would be obvious to utilize earplugs. But if your subjected to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or with the aforementioned snoring partner), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs aren’t well suited to day to day use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions like a sports event or a concert.
Why? The first problem is, earwax. In order to protect themselves, your ears make earwax, and if wearing earplugs is something you do regularly, more earwax will be created, and you are likely to jam it in with the plugs. This can cause troubles like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing concerns.
Ear infections can be another problem for people who use earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you use the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. At the very least, ear infections are a disturbance of your day to day life. But at the negative end of the spectrum, they can also cause a loss of hearing if you fail to get treatment.
How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?
Whether it’s a good night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a strong positive to wearing earplugs. You just have to be sure you’re using the correct kind and using them the proper way. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is helpful because you really shouldn’t use them more than once, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in your ears until they are thoroughly dry after utilizing warm water to entirely sanitize them. Buildup of moisture can cause bacteria or mold so store your earplugs in a well ventilated container.
If you want or need to wear earplugs on a regular basis, you may want to consult us about having custom-made earplugs. These are constructed from unique molds of your ears, they can be reused and because they’re fitted to your ears, comfortable. Again though, to avoid any possible hearing damage, it’s important to practice smart earplug hygiene!