Hearing loss affects over half of the population in the United States. While most hearing loss is caused by aging, many people will develop hearing loss due to noise exposure at a young age, resulting in early deafness and ringing in the ears.
Ear protection, such as hearing aids, earplugs, and earmuffs, is highly effective in preventing hearing loss. On the other hand, earplugs may cause more harm than benefit if they are not used properly.
What Are the Different Ear Plug Types?
Earplugs are little plastic or rubber devices that protect the inner ear from noise, water, and other sources of injury. Earplugs come in various styles, each offering a different level of hearing protection. They’re frequently divided into categories based on how they’re created, such as:
- Foam Earplugs: These are affordable polyvinyl chloride plugs (PVC). They can be squeezed or rolled on one end, then placed into the ear and expanded to close the ear canal entrance.
- Plugs Made of Silicone: These earplugs are softer and feel like dough. They are shaped to fit into the ear canal from the outside.
- Plugs With Flanges: Two or three webbed rings attach the earplugs inside the ear canal, creating a series of noise barriers while preventing the earplug from falling out.
- Custom-Molded Plugs: These are custom-made, utilizing a mold of the patient’s ear to ensure that the earplug fits perfectly in the ear canal.
When exposed to continuous or dangerous sound levels for an extended period, earplugs are good for noise protection. The following are some of the instances when people use earplugs:
- Listening to music that is too loud. Rock concerts and loud gatherings can cause hearing loss, especially if the volume is high for more than an hour. Musicians frequently employ ‘Hi-Fi’ earplugs to shield their hearing from the effects of their performances.
- Making use of big machines. Although construction and industrial workers are at a higher risk of hearing loss, any loud electrical item or machinery can induce hearing loss. People who use power tools to do home improvements, mow their lawns, or ride motorbikes should wear hearing protection.
- Sleeping. For light sleepers, earplugs can be highly beneficial. Road noise, loud neighbors, or even a snoring companion in the same bed can be blocked with earplugs designed for overnight use.
Are There Any Negative Effects of Using Earplugs?
While earplugs are intended to protect the structures of the inner ear, they can also cause hearing issues in some situations. Earplug users should be aware of the risks of wearing earplugs, which include:
While earplugs might be helpful, people should be aware that they can also put the wearer in danger. For instance, you may not hear warning sounds if you are in a scenario where you need to be aware of abrupt noises, such as caring for a child, driving, or being in a dangerous environment. When wearing earplugs to sleep, ensure you can hear emergency devices (such as smoke alarms) and that you can remove your earplugs as soon as the detrimental noise.
If you suspect you or a loved one have hearing problems, you can check with hearing tests in Massachusetts.
Impacted Ear Wax
A layer of earwax protects the ear structures from dirt, debris, and other harmful things. Normally, this wax gradually drains out of the ears, but wearing earplugs for an extended period can inhibit this and even pack the earwax securely into the ear canal.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is one of the most prevalent adverse effects of impacted earwax. In most situations, this can be resolved by having impacted wax removed and cleaning the earplugs and ear canals regularly to prevent the problem from returning.
Infections of the Ears
When you wear the same earplugs repeatedly, bacteria can form on them, which grows in your ear’s wet environment. Ear infections can result in pain, redness, hearing loss, discharge, and permanent hearing damage if left untreated.
There are techniques to safeguard your hearing with and without earplugs if you are exposed to harmful noise levels. Of course, you should see your hearing consultant in Massachusetts frequently to ensure that your hearing is as good as it can be.
Hear More Associates, your most trusted source of hearing aids and hearing tests in Massachusetts, is here to provide you with the proper ways to aid hearing loss. Make an appointment with us today!