Louisville Family Audiology - Louisville, KY

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re subjected to loud noises, for example using a lawnmower in your yard, going to a venue to see your favorite band play, or merely sleeping in your own bed beside a snoring spouse, earplugs can be practical. In the first two circumstances, they can help protect your ears by turning down the volume. They assist in saving your peace of mind and perhaps even your marriage, in the last case, by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, injuring your hearing?

What’s The Purpose of Utilizing Earplugs?

The argument for earplugs is pretty simple: Properly used, earplugs can help safeguard your ears by minimizing your exposure to extreme sound levels. Perhaps you’ve observed that your hearing seems different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a loud crowd, and you might also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those little hairs are bent by this kind of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this happens. It often goes away within a couple of days, because the hair cells have recovered.

But in a few particular circumstances, there is a relentless assault on those little hairs, particularly if you work in a noisy trade such as the music business or in an airport. In this case, those hairs never heal, they are permanently injured. you have 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 change in a hearing assessment.

How Could Earplugs Result in Damage?

That being said, you’d think that using earplugs would be a no-brainer in terms of protecting your ears. But if your subjected to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or when your significant other snores as mentioned), headphones that decrease, but don’t entirely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better choice. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off scenarios like a concert or sporting event than for regular use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears make earwax, and if wearing earplugs is something you do all of the time, they’re going to produce more of it, and the earplugs will jam it in further. This can lead to issues like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing issues.

Ear infections can be another problem for those who wear earplugs. If you frequently use the same pair, and you fail to clean them properly from use to use, they can become bacteria traps. At the very least, ear infections are a disturbance of your life. If left untreated, in the worst instances, they can result in an ear infection.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or safeguarding your ears, there’s still a strong positive to wearing earplugs. You just have to be sure you’re using the right kind and using them in the proper way. Foam earplugs are the least costly, which is helpful because you really shouldn’t reuse them, the soft, porous material is a germ’s haven. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in your ears until they are completely dry after utilizing warm water to completely sanitize them. Buildup of humidity can cause bacteria or mold so store your earplugs in a well ventilated place.

If you want or need to use earplugs regularly, 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 prevent any potential hearing problems, it’s important to put into 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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