Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be helpful if you’re subjected to loud sounds, such as for instance, something as simple as a spouse who is snoring, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to an arena to see a concert. In the first two situations, they can help safeguard your ears by turning down the volume. They assist in saving your sanity and perhaps even your relationships, in the last case, by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being injured by these protectors?

Why Utilize Earplugs at All?

The case for earplugs is fairly simple: Properly used, earplugs can help to protect your hearing by reducing your exposure to extreme decibel levels. After you leave a loud place, say a football game where the announcer keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, when the opposing team kicks off, you’ve probably observed that your hearing seems different, and you may also experience symptoms of tinnitus. This happens because those extremely loud noises actually bend the small hair cells in your inner ear. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes away.

But in certain instances, there is a persistent assault on those tiny hairs, especially if you work in a noisy trade such as the music business or in an airport. In this instance, those hairs don’t heal, they are permanently damaged. you have around 16,000 of those tiny cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be injured or destroyed before your hearing has changed enough for the deficiency to show up in a hearing assessment.

Is it Conceivable to Harm Your Hearing by Wearing Earplugs?

With all that, you’d think that wearing earplugs would be a no-brainer in terms of protecting your ears. But if your exposed to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or with the above mentioned snoring partner), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely blocking) headphones are a smarter option. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off scenarios like a concert or sporting event than for everyday use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears generate wax to protect themselves, and if you’re regularly wearing earplugs, they’re going to make more of it, and you’re likely to jam it in with the plugs. Tinnitus and other issues 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 traps if you use the same pair but fail to properly clean and disinfect them. At the very least, ear infections are a disturbance of your day to day life. If neglected, in the worst instances, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Without Risk?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or safeguarding your ears, there’s still a strong benefit to using earplugs. Using them in the right way and using the right kind is the secret to success. Foam earplugs are the least costly, 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 until they are completely dry after utilizing warm water to entirely sanitize them. It’s also a good plan to store earplugs in a ventilated place to prevent humidity, or worse, bacteria or mold, from accumulating.

You might want to speak with us about custom fit earplugs if you want or need them regularly. They are comfortable because they are made from molds of your ears and they are reusable. But it’s worthwhile not to forget, good earplug hygiene can lessen hearing damage.