NAMPA, ID 208-616-1994
BOISE, ID 208-505-9520

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be helpful if you’re subjected to loud noises, such as, something as basic as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to an arena to see a concert. In the first two cases, they can assist in safeguarding your hearing by decreasing the volume. In the last instance, they lower the decibels plus help save your sanity (and possibly your relationships) by enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. But is your hearing being damaged by these protectors?

Why Utilize Earplugs in The First Place?

It’s a fairly simple case for wearing earplugs: When used properly, earplugs can minimize your exposure to excessive sound levels and thereby safeguard your hearing. When you leave a loud venue, like a football game where the announcer keeps exhorting the crowd to, GET LOUD, every time the other team kicks off, you’ve most likely observed that your hearing seems off, and you could also have symptoms of tinnitus. This happens because those extremely loud noises actually bend the tiny hair cells inside your inner ear. It usually disappears within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But in some instances, there is a persistent assault on those little hairs, particularly if you work in a noisy profession like construction or around jet planes. In this case, those hairs don’t recover, they are permanently damaged. you have just about 16,000 of those tiny cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be damaged or destroyed before your hearing has altered enough for the deficiency to show up in a hearing test.

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

In terms of protecting your ears, you’d think it would be obvious to wear earplugs. But particularly if you’re in situations where you’re subjected to loud noises every day (like on the job or with the aforementioned snoring spouse), over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing (but not completely stopping) headphones are a better choice. Earplugs aren’t the best choice for everyday use but are better suited to one time events such as a sports event or a concert.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. In order to protect themselves, your ears make earwax, and if you’re frequently using earplugs, more earwax will be produced, and you’ll probably jam it in with the plugs. Tinnitus and other issues can be the outcome from impacted earwax.

An ear infection can also be the consequence from too much use of earplugs. They can become bacteria breeding grounds if you use the same pair without proper cleaning and disinfecting. At the very least, ear infections are a disruption of your day to day life. But at the negative end of the scale, they can also result in a loss of hearing if neglected.

How Can You Safely Use Earplugs?

Earplugs still have a strong positive, whether it’s protecting your ears or enjoying a good night’s sleep. Using them in the proper way and using the most appropriate kind is the key to success. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, 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 wax or silicone earplugs back in until they are thoroughly dry after using warm water to entirely sanitize them. Buildup of humidity can cause bacteria or mold so store your earplugs in a well ventilated container.

If you want or need to use earplugs regularly, you may want to consult us about having custom-made earplugs. They’re comfortable because they are crafted from molds of your ears and they are reusable. But it’s worthwhile not to forget, good earplug hygiene can prevent hearing impairment.