Protecting your hearing is an important part of long term ear health, although it’s not always easy. Fortunately, earplugs are a useful tool to prevent damage from loud noises and hearing loss. They are great for concerts, fireworks, and other noisy events and they are a necessity if you work in a loud environment, such as in construction. But if you’ve ever tried looking up earplugs online, there are so many varieties of shapes and materials that it can be difficult to know where to start. The following is a breakdown of a few of the common types of earplugs you will encounter, and how to find the best fit for you.
Nearly all earplugs are made of either a foam material, wax, silicone, rubber, or plastic. Often you will find earplugs made of a combination of these things. Soft foam earplugs are comfortable for everyday use and sleeping, but you should replace them after a couple of wears. These are usually the least expensive and come in bulk varieties. Earplugs made of wax and silicone are moldable and more heavy-duty. Lastly, solid earplug materials like plastic, which is usually combined with silicone, are reusable and versatile for daily use or loud occasions.
The shape of an earplug is determined by its material and how the manufacturer intended it to be worn. The most common shapes of earplugs you will find are either cylindrical or bell-shaped, and plunger-shaped. Foam ear plugs are almost always cylindrical because that will fit all ear shapes. The plastic earplugs will have a layer of two or more plungers on the end to help them stay in. For this reason, those earplugs are better for outdoor activities. Another thing you will encounter is the option for corded earplugs, where a plastic string attached to the end of each earplug keeps the pair together. The cord is a nice convenience but has no added benefit except to prevent losing one earplug. Therefore, save money and avoid buying corded foam earplugs that are disposable anyway.
How to insert and use the earplugs may also affect your purchasing decision. Certain kinds of earplugs may be a less comfortable fit than others for your ear. To insert foam earplugs, you have to compress them by squeezing or twisting. Then carefully put them in your ear canal and allow a few seconds for them to expand into place. Moldable earplugs are a bit trickier because you have to shape the silicone wax into what you think will fit in your ear. Once you do, be careful to push it into your ear gently, and you may have to take them out and try again. Plunger style earplugs are the most straightforward. Simply insert them while being careful not to push them too hard. If you still haven’t found an earplug that fits, consider asking your audiologist about custom earplugs.
Bay Area Audiology can help protect your hearing
If you are concerned about hearing loss or seeking hearing evaluations, tinnitus evaluations, or hearing aid assistance, our doctors are ready to help. We are passionate about helping all of our patients improve their quality of life through better hearing. We also believe that patient education is critical, so you won’t be lead through endless sales pitches at our office. If you are interested in hearing how we can help you hear even better, contact us at (410) 838-4327 or online. For more hearing tips and articles, follow Bay Area Audiology on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.