How to safely use earplugs

There are a variety of reasons why people suffer from hearing loss, but one good preventative measure is the use of earplugs to protect the sensitive cells in your inner ear from becoming damaged.

Earplugs and earmuffs are an effective way to protect your ears from loud noises. If you work in a noisy environment or find yourself exposed to loud noises for long periods of time, earplugs can help you stay protected and safe.

What are the best earplugs to use?

Generally, the best earplugs are comfortable and fit into your ears securely. The most important feature to consider with earplugs is how high the product’s noise reduction rating (NRR) is. The higher the NRR, the more sound the earplugs block.

How to use foam earplugs safely

The best way to use soft foam earplugs is the roll, pull, and hold method. Make sure your hands are clean as you do this, to prevent dirt or bacteria entering your ear canal as you insert the earplug.

  • Roll and compress – make sure your earplug is tapered when you roll it, and make sure the earplug is smooth when rolled so there aren’t any wrinkles. To ensure this, it’s best to roll the plug between your thumb and forefinger to give you more control
  • Reach a hand over your head. Pull your ear upward so that your ear canal is straightened out. Insert that tapered end of the earplug into your ear canal – it helps to compress the tapered end a little so that the earplug enters your ear canal more firmly, with a lesser risk of it falling out.
  • Hold the earplug in your ear for 30 seconds while the earplug expands to fill your ear canal.

Tips and tricks

You’ll know the earplug is in correctly when sounds around you are muffled. To check that the fit is correct, cup your hands tightly over your ears. If the sounds are more muffled with your hands cupping your ears, your earplug isn’t working properly, and you’ll need to remove it and try again.

When the earplug is inserted correctly, the body of the plug should be inside the ear canal. The bottom edge of the earplug should be located outside of the ear canal.

Sometimes, the effectiveness of the earplug can be according to its size. You may need a bigger earplug if you find yourself doing everything right and still not feeling adequately protected from sound. Conversely, you may find yourself needing a smaller earplug if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Should you choose an earplug which isn’t made of foam, insertion is straightforward. You simply need to insert the plug into the ear canal without twisting or changing the shape.

Wax or silicone earplugs need to be smoothed over to create a seal over the ear after insertion. It's important to know that they should only be used to cover the very outer portion of the ear, and never inserted into the ear canal.

Sleeping with earplugs

Earplugs are a safe, affordable way of improving sleep quality, and they have also been shown to improve REM sleep. They are a very good way to protect yourself from loud noises and minimise any cause of hearing damage or loss.

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