Puretone Hearing Aid Center - Longview, Marshall, and San Antonio, TX

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re exposed to loud noises, such as, something as straightforward as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to an arena to see a concert. Turning down the sound level is the way earplugs help in the first two circumstances. In the last instance, they reduce the sound levels and help save your sanity (and possibly your relationships) by allowing 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 fairly simple case for using earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can minimize your exposure to extreme sound levels and thereby shield your hearing. After you leave a loud place, say a football game where the Jumbotron keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, when the opposing team kicks off, you’ve most likely noticed that your hearing seems different, and you could also experience symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those extremely loud sounds can actually bend the small hair cells inside your inner ear. In a day or two, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes back to normal.

But if you’re exposed to excessive decibels continuously, say you work on a construction crew or at an airfield, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is constant. In this circumstance, those hairs cannot recover, they are permanently damaged. There are around 16,000 of those little cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be damaged or ruined before your hearing has changed enough for the problem to show up in a hearing assessment.

How Could Earplugs Result in Injury?

When it comes to protecting your hearing, it seems like it would be a no-brainer 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 when your significant other snores as previously stated), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs are better suited to one-off scenarios like a sporting event or concert than for everyday use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears produce wax to protect themselves, and if using earplugs is something you do frequently, they will generate more of it, and the earplugs will push it in further. This can result in issues like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing disorders.

An ear infection can also result from overuse of earplugs. They can become bacteria traps if you use the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. Certainly, ear infections can be a disruption of your 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 good night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a formidable positive to using earplugs. You just need to be sure you’re using the correct kind and using them the proper way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ sanctuary so it’s a helpful thing that they are the least costly. Don’t put wax or silicone earplugs back in until they are thoroughly dry after utilizing warm water to completely sanitize them. Buildup of dampness can cause mold and bacteria so keep your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

If you need or want to wear earplugs on a regular basis, you might want to get in touch with 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 stop any potential hearing problems, it’s important to practice good 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.