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Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re subjected to loud sounds, for instance using a lawnmower in your backyard, going to a venue to see your favorite band play, or simply sleeping at home beside a snoring spouse, earplugs can be helpful. In the first two cases, they can assist in safeguarding your hearing by decreasing the volume. They help save your peace of mind and possibly even your marriage, in the last situation, by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being harmed by these protectors?

Why Utilize Earplugs at All?

It’s a fairly simple argument for using earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can help to protect your hearing by minimizing your exposure to extreme decibel levels. Maybe you’ve noticed that your hearing seems different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a noisy crowd, and you might also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those extremely loud sounds can actually bend the little hair cells in your inner ear. It often goes away within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re exposed to excessive decibels continually, for example, if you work on a construction site or at an airfield, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is unyielding. As opposed to recovering after bending, the cells are damaged permanently. Inside each cochlea, there are around 16,000 of these little hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be harmed or ruined before your hearing has altered enough for the deficiency to show up in a hearing exam.

Is it Possible That Your Hearing May be Injured by Earplugs?

With regards to safeguarding your hearing, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to make use of earplugs. 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 when your spouse snores as mentioned), headphones that decrease, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter idea. Earplugs aren’t well suited to everyday use but are a smarter choice for one off occasions like a concert or sporting events.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears create earwax, and if using earplugs is something you do frequently, they will generate more of it, and you’ll probably push it in with the plugs. This can result in troubles like impacted earwax, which can trigger tinnitus and other hearing disorders.

Ear infections can be another complication for those who use earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you regularly wear the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. Certainly, ear infections can be a disruption of your life. But at the negative end of the scale, they can also cause a loss of hearing if left untreated.

How Can You Safely Utilize Earplugs?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a formidable benefit to wearing earplugs. Using them in the proper way and using the most appropriate kind is the secret to success. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ haven so it’s a good thing they are the least expensive. Wax or silicone earplugs are reusable, but you have to keep them clean, wash them with warm water and mild soap to clean them, and you shouldn’t put them back in your ears until they’re totally dry. It’s also a good idea to store earplugs in a well ventilated container to prevent moisture, or worse, mold or bacteria, from accumulating.

If you need or want to wear earplugs regularly, you might want to talk to us about getting custom-made earplugs. They’re comfortable because they are made from molds of your ears and they’re reusable. But it’s important not to forget, smart earplug hygiene can stop hearing impairment.

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