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Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

If you’re subjected to loud sounds, for instance using a lawnmower in your yard, going to a venue to see your favorite band play, or simply sleeping in your own bed next to a snoring spouse, earplugs may be practical. In the first two circumstances, they can help safeguard your hearing by turning down the volume. They help save your sanity and perhaps even your marriage, in the last case, by permitting you to get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being injured by these protectors?

What’s The Purpose of Using Earplugs?

The case for earplugs is fairly simple: Properly used, earplugs can help safeguard your hearing by reducing your exposure to excessive decibel levels. After you leave a loud venue, like a football game where the Jumbotron keeps telling the crowd to, GET LOUD, when the other team kicks off, you’ve most likely noticed that your hearing seems different, and you could also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. This occurs because those super-loud sounds actually bend the tiny hair cells in your inner ear. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it generally goes back to normal.

But in certain circumstances, there is a continual assault on those little hairs, this is especially true if you work in a high volume profession like the music business or around jet planes. In this case, those hairs don’t get better, they are permanently injured. Inside each cochlea, there are about 16,000 of these little hair cells, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least damaged before you would notice the different in a hearing test.

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

With regards to protecting your hearing, it seems like it would be obvious to utilize earplugs. But if your subjected to loud noises on a day to day basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or with the previously mentioned snoring significant other), headphones that limit, but don’t totally cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much better idea. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off situations such as a concert or sporting event than for everyday use.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears generate wax to defend themselves, and if wearing earplugs is something you do regularly, they’re going to create more of it, and the earplugs will push it in further. Tinnitus and other problems can be the outcome from impacted earwax.

Ear infections can be another concern for people who use earplugs. If you continuously wear the same pair, and you fail to clean them properly from use to use, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. At the very least, ear infections can be a disturbance to your life. But at the worst-case-scenario end of the scale, they can also result in hearing loss if neglected.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Whether it’s a good night sleep or protecting your hearing, there’s still a formidable positive to wearing earplugs. You just have to be certain you’re using the proper kind and utilizing them the correct way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ sanctuary so it’s a helpful thing that they are the least costly. Wax or silicone earplugs are reusable, but you need to keep them clean, use warm water and mild soap to wash them, and you shouldn’t put them back in your ears until they’re thoroughly dry. It’s also a good plan to store earplugs in a ventilated container to discourage moisture, or worse, bacteria or mold, from accumulating.

You might want to contact us concerning custom fit earplugs if you want or need them frequently. They’re comfortable since they’re made from molds of your ears and they are reusable. But it’s essential not to forget, good earplug hygiene can stop hearing damage.

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