Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re exposed to loud sounds, such as, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two cases, they can help protect your hearing by turning down the volume. In the last circumstances, they bring down the sound levels and help save your peace of mind (and maybe your marriage) by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, causing damage to your ears?

Why Utilize Earplugs in The First Place?

The argument for earplugs is fairly simple: Properly used, earplugs can reduce your exposure to excessive sound levels and thereby protect your ears. When you leave a loud place, like a football game where the Jumbotron keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, when the opposing team kicks off, you’ve probably observed that your hearing seems different, and you could also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those little hairs are bent by this kind of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this occurs. It usually goes away within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But in certain situations, there is a constant assault on those little hairs, particularly if you work in a noisy profession such as the music business or in an airport. Instead of bending and then recovering, the cells are permanently impaired. you have about 16,000 of those little cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least injured before you would see the different in a hearing assessment.

Is it a Possibility to Injure Your Hearing by Using Earplugs?

When it comes to safeguarding your ears, you’d think it would be obvious to wear earplugs. But primarily if you’re in situations where you’re subjected to loud noises on a regular basis (like on the job or with the previously mentioned snoring partner), headphones that decrease, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter choice. Earplugs aren’t well suited to daily use but are a smarter choice for one time events like a sports event or a concert.

Why? For one, earwax. In order to protect themselves, your ears produce earwax, and if you’re constantly wearing earplugs, more earwax will be generated, and the earplugs will jam it in further. Tinnitus and other problems can be the result of impacted earwax.

Ear infections can also be the consequence from overuse of earplugs. If you frequently wear the same pair, and you don’t clean them 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 result in an ear infection.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Without Risk?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or protecting your hearing, there’s still a big upside to using earplugs. You just need to be sure you’re using the proper kind and utilizing them the right way. Foam earplugs are the least costly, which is good because you really should not use them more than once, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s paradise. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in your ears until they are completely dry after using warm water to entirely sanitize them. It’s also a good idea to store earplugs in a ventilated container to discourage moisture, or worse, bacteria or mold, from building up.

You may want to talk to us about custom fit earplugs if you want or need them regularly. These are made from unique molds of your ears, they can be reused and since they’re fitted to your ears, their comfortable. Again though, to avoid any potential hearing problems, it’s crucial to practice smart earplug hygiene!

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