If you have a tendency to develop ear problems, it’s vital that you take steps to protect your ears. That means avoiding anything that will increase your ear wax production, including keeping water out of your ears and reducing contact with dirt, dust, and other small particulates.
Want to know what one of the best ways to protect your ears is? That’s right, you guessed it: earplugs!
How to Use Ear Plugs: How Do Ear Plugs Work
Ear plugs are made from a variety of soft, safe materials, and are designed to sit in your outer ear to help prevent sound, water, and dirt from getting into your ear. Sounds simple, right?
Well, in order to answer the question “how do earplugs work?” you have to understand that the human ear is not designed to work properly with things inserting in it.
The ear canal is designed to continuously migrate foreign material and fluids out of the ear, and any time you insert something into your ears, you are interrupting this natural biological conveyor belt effect.
Even using earplugs, which are designed to be as safe as possible, can disrupt the ear canals natural cleaning process causing discomfort or other problematic side effects.
How to Use Ear Plugs: Risks of Ear Plugs
It’s sad but true! There are risks of earplugs, especially if you’re not careful. Prolonged use of earplugs can lead to a number of problems, such as:
Impacted Ear Wax
When you insert something into your ear, you’re essentially introducing a foreign body into an area of very sensitive skin. The dirt, germs, and bacteria on the earplugs will cause your ear to produce more wax as a means of protecting itself.
But with the earplugs in, your ears will be unable to drain the excess ear wax. Every time you insert the earplugs, you push the ear wax farther back toward the eardrum.
You can increase your risk of ear clogs as a result of impacted ear wax, which builds up over time as you use the ear plugs.
Remember the whole “inserting dirt and germs” thing? Your ear is already home to a lot of dirt, germs, and bacteria. The more you add, the higher the risk that the bacteria will multiply and spread beyond your immune system’s ability to control it. This could lead to an ear infection.
The use of earplugs also trap moisture inside your ear. This provides bacteria with the perfect environment to thrive and spread. If you’re not careful, using earplugs will drastically increase your risk of infections.
Stuck Ear Plugs
We’ve all done stupid things as children and shoved items too far into our noses and ears. Well, that could happen with ear plugs!
You see, earplugs are meant to be inserted into the ear canal, but there is nothing stopping them from being pushed farther and farther back. If you tend to sleep on your side, the weight of your head will press down on the earplugs.
There is a very real chance that the earplugs will be pushed all the way into your ear until they’re pressing on your eardrums. You may have no way to remove them safely, or without damaging your ear. You may have to end up going to the hospital to have them removed.
Damage to Ears
The earplugs are meant to form a tight seal that prevents water, sound, and dirt from getting into your ear. But when you go to remove the plugs, that tight seal can create a suction that will pull on your eardrums. If you’re not very careful when removing the plugs, you can do serious damage to your ears.
As you can see, there are a few dangers to using earplugs if you aren’t careful to use them the right way. Thankfully, we’ve got a few tips to help you be safe with your use of earplugs.
Follow our advice, and you’ll never have to worry about ear pain or damage when using earplugs!
How to Use Ear Plugs: Proper Ear Plug Insertion
The first step in learning how to use foam earplugs or soft silicone earplugs is to learn the secrets of inserting them correctly. Proper earplug insertion will reduce the risk of damage to your ears, and will make it easier to pull the plugs out in the morning, after your swim, or once you’ve finished showering.
Inserting earplugs correctly is actually fairly easy:
Roll the earplugs between your fingers until they are tight and small.
Pull on your upper ear to open the ear canal. This will help the earplug slide in easily.
Insert the squeezed earplug into your ear canal, but hold onto it in order to ensure that it doesn’t go in too far.
See, isn’t that easy? It takes a few seconds to roll the earplug and insert it. By following this 3-step process, you ensure that your ears are safe as you use earplugs.
How to Use Ear Plugs: Ear Plug Safety Tips
You’ve got the earplugs in, but that’s only the first step in learning how to use earplugs properly. You’ve got to learn how to be safe while they’re in your ears, as well as what to do once you take them out.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Be careful with your movements
While you’ve got the earplugs in your ears, be careful not to do anything that will drive them deeper into your ear canal. Avoid any contact or impact with your ears (such as in water sports or diving).
- Sleep on your back
This is one of the best earplug safety tips we can give you! Most of the earplug problems occur overnight when you’re sleeping and unaware that the weight of your head is driving the plugs deeper into your ear.
After inserting earplugs, make it a point to sleep on your back, using a pillow that will keep your head from turning as you sleep.
- Use them sparingly
The more you use earplugs, the higher the risk of impacted ear wax, ear damage, and infections. You’d do well to limit your use of earplugs as much as possible.
Only use them when you need them – such as when swimming or having a hard time sleeping. Try other methods of noise-canceling when sleeping, and consider using a swim cap when swimming.
- Clean or discard daily
Either throw the earplugs away after use (the ideal solution for cheap ear plugs) or clean them thoroughly (for custom earplugs).
Use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, soap, and warm water to clean the earplugs after every use. This will prevent dirt, germs, bacteria, and ear wax particle buildup on the earplugs.
- Pull them out slowly
Be very careful when removing the plugs! Squeeze and twist while gently pulling. Take your time. If you feel any pain, stop pulling. The last thing you want is to damage your eardrums!
- Use the right kind
There are many types of earplugs (electronic, musician, disposable, snoring relief, airplane, vented, non-vented, etc.) made from many different materials (silicone, foam, wax, etc.).
Make sure to find the type of earplugs that works best for YOUR ears.
- Pay attention to your ears
Feeling pain in your ears? Getting that “stuffed up” feeling? Is there pressure on your eardrums? If there is anything wrong, stop using the earplugs. Your ears will let you know if the earplugs are causing problems.
Don’t hesitate to visit your local Ear Nose and Throat doctor if you have persistent discomfort.
- Clean your ears
This is the best way to reduce the risk of impacted wax in your ear canals! Use the Oto-Tip as a safe, at-home ear wax removal tool, keeping your ears clean. This soft tipped device will remove ear wax, so use it regularly after using ear plugs.
Your ears are delicate mechanisms that can develop problems easily. If you’re not careful, you may be responsible for causing infections and even hearing loss.
Follow the advice above, and you’ll be as safe as possible while still enjoying the benefits of earplugs!