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Gold Country Hearing - Gold Country Valley, CA

Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be beneficial if you’re subjected to loud noises, like, something as simple as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your yard, or going to an arena to see a concert. Lowering the sound level is how earplugs can help in the first two situations. They help save your peace of mind and perhaps even your relationships, in the last situation, by letting you get a good night’s sleep. But are these ear protectors, really, causing damage to your hearing?

What’s The Point of Wearing Earplugs?

The argument for earplugs is quite simple: Properly used, earplugs can limit your exposure to extreme volume levels and thereby shield your hearing. Maybe you’ve observed that your hearing sounds different when you leave a loud venue, say, a football game with a noisy crowd, and you could also experience symptoms of tinnitus. Those tiny hairs are bent by this sort of noise exposure and that’s the reason why this happens. It usually disappears within a day or two, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to extreme decibels regularly, for instance, if you work on a construction crew or at an airfield, the aural assault on those tiny hair cells is unrelenting. In this instance, those hairs don’t get better, they are permanently injured. you have about 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.

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

In terms of protecting your ears, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to utilize earplugs. But primarily if you’re in scenarios where you’re subjected to loud noises regularly (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 smarter option. Earplugs aren’t well suited to everyday use but are a smarter choice for one time occasions such as a concert or sporting events.

Why? The first problem is, earwax. Your ears produce wax to protect themselves, and if wearing earplugs is something you do frequently, they will create more of it, and you’re likely to push it in with the plugs. This can lead to problems like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing issues.

An ear infection can be another issue for people who wear earplugs. If you continually wear the same pair, and you don’t clean them properly from use to use, they can become bacteria traps. Ear infections are, at a minimum, an uncomfortable annoyance. But at the negative end of the spectrum, they can also cause a loss of hearing if you fail to get treatment.

How Can You Make Use of Earplugs Safely?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a formidable positive to wearing earplugs. You just have to be sure you’re using the correct kind and using them in the proper way. Foam earplugs are the least expensive, which is good because you really shouldn’t reuse them, the cushy, porous material is a germ’s paradise. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in until they are totally dry after using warm water to completely clean them. It’s also a good idea to keep earplugs in a ventilated container to discourage moisture, or worse, mold or bacteria, from building up.

If you need or want to wear earplugs on a regular basis, you may want to get in touch with us about having custom-made earplugs. They are comfortable because they’re made from molds of your ears and they are reusable. But it’s crucial not to forget, smart earplug hygiene can prevent hearing damage.

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