Nearly 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of deafness. Most hearing loss is due to age-related causes, but many younger people experience hearing loss when exposed to noise, leading to early hearing loss and ear singing.
Hearing protection, such as earplugs and ear protectors, is effective in preventing premature hearing loss. However, when misused, earplugs can be more harmful than good. But, Can wear earplugs cause hearing loss? Please read the article further to know more about it. Let us first discuss why people actually use earplugs.
Table of Contents
Purpose of using Earplugs
It is advisable to use earplugs as noise protection. It is for such situations when you are exposed to constant or harmful sound levels for extended periods. The most common times people wear earplugs are:
Listen to Music at Full Volume
Rock concerts and noisy parties can cause hearing loss, especially if high noise levels last longer than an hour. Musicians often wear “Hi-Fi” earphones to protect against hearing loss caused by their performance.
Use of Heavy Machinery
Construction and industrial workers are at high risk of hearing loss. In reality, noisy electrical equipment and machinery operations can cause hearing loss. People who use power tools for home renovations, amputations, and motorcycles should be careful. They should protect their ears during these activities.
Earplugs are handy for people who sleep lightly. Designed for night use, earplugs can block:
- Road noise
- Noisy neighbors
- Loud music
- TV in another room,
- The sound of snoring from a partner in the same bed
Types of Earplugs
Earplugs are small plastic or rubber devices. They are made to protect the inner ear from noise, water, and other damage. There are different types of earplugs. Each class offers an extra level of hearing protection. They are generally categorized according to manufacturing method as follows:
An inexpensive plug made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They can be pinched or twisted on one side into the ear. They can be stretched to cover the opening of the ear canal.
These earplugs are soft and have a fabric-like feel. They are shaped to fit the outside of the ear canal.
These earplugs have two or three cross-linking rings that secure in the ear canal. It provides a series of noise barriers and prevents the plug from falling off.
Custom Molded Plug
The ear cups are ordered using the patient’s ear shape to fit the patient’s ear canal exactly.
Side Effects of using Earplugs
Earplugs are designed to protect the structure of the inner ear, but earplugs can cause hearing issues. Users should be aware of the potential dangers of wearing earplugs such as:
The ear structure is protected from dirt, debris, and other harmful substances by a covering of earwax. Usually, this wax will come out slowly into your ears. But long-term use of earplugs will prevent drainage. In this way, the wax will tightly clog the ear canal.
One of the most common side effects of affected earwax is tinnitus or tingling in the ears. In most cases, this can be corrected by removing the affected wax. The hearing care professional does it, so you can also consult an ENT specialist. Clean the earplugs and ear canal regularly to prevent the condition from recurring.
While earplugs are beneficial, people need to be aware that they can put users at risk. If you are in a situation where you need to be aware of sudden sounds such as:
- Dangerous environments
You may not hear the warning sound in such situations. Remove earplugs as soon as the harmful noise stops. Make sure you can hear an emergency device (such as a smoke detector) while you sleep.
Repeated use of the same earplugs can cause bacteria to build up and grow in a moist environment in the ear. Ear infections can cause pain, redness, hearing loss, discharge, and even permanent damage to hearing without medical intervention.
If you are exposed to harmful noise levels, there are ways to keep your hearing safe, with or without earplugs. You can wear earplugs while using the machine to take a break from the noisy activity. Return to a quiet environment every 15 minutes to rest your ears. Wearing earplugs can protect your hearing health in the following preventive ways:
- Make sure your earplugs are clean and dry before use.
- Choose the right size earplugs for your ears and activities
- Carefully insert and remove earplugs after each use
- Store earplugs in a ventilated container to prevent moisture and bacterial buildup.
If you want or need to wear earplugs regularly, we recommend that you consult with an ENT Specialist about wearing custom earplugs. It is a bit expensive because it’s made with a unique ear shape. But such earplugs are reusable and fit your ears, so it’s comfortable. However, it is essential to practice earplug hygiene to avoid the possibility of hearing loss.
You can book your appointment with one of the best ENT Specialists through Marham.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1- Can earplugs cause harm to the eardrum?
Properly inserted earplugs must pass through their central constriction for an optimal fit. Wearing earplugs may feel sensitive, but it will not damage your eardrum.
2- Can hearing be protected by wearing earplugs?
When appropriately used, earplugs can reduce exposure to excessive noise levels and protect hearing.
3- Can I wear earplugs every night?
Earplugs do not impair your hearing. If you are careful about hygiene, you can use it every night.
4- How often do you need to replace your earplugs?
With proper maintenance, reusable earplugs should be replaced every 2-4 weeks. Push-in foam earplugs should be replaced every five days. Rinse with mild soap/water, tap to dry or air dry, and store in a carrying case when not in use.