Is it safe to use ear plugs regularly?

Published 25 March 2019  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

A woman putting on ear protection.

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that modern life seems too loud, you’re right: it actually is too loud. In fact, even something seemingly common and every day, like heavy traffic on a busy road, can hit 88 decibels – above the accepted safe limit of 85 decibels. We all need to look after our hearing.

There are plenty of ways to protect your hearing

One of the most effective, and cheapest, is to wear ear plugs. Ear plugs are tiny and inexpensive, helping you to protect the delicate hair cell receptors deep inside your inner ear.

Specialist ear plugs, such as the custom-moulded models made by British firm ACS, are designed to lower the volume of sound while maintaining clarity. They’re ideal for keeping your hearing safe at live music concerts without compromising on sound quality.

ACS also make day-to-day ear plugs, which come in a handy keyring container. What’s more, if you use ear plugs for swimming (to keep your ears dry), there are purpose-made models just for you.

But are ear plugs safe?

In short, yes, ear plugs are very safe to use. But there are some things to bear in mind when using ear plugs:

Ear wax

If you wear ear plugs for long periods of time (for example, you use ear plugs to help you get a good night’s sleep), they could be pushing ear wax further into your ear. It’s very rare, but worth being aware of. This could cause mild hearing loss or discomfort, but it’s easily removed with a simple, painless procedure.

Cleaning your ear plugs

If you’ve taken the sensible decision to invest in ear plugs, make sure you keep them clean. For silicone ear plugs, wash them thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse carefully, and always make sure they are 100% dry before you put them back in your ears. Foam ear plugs usually aren’t washable, and can harbour bacteria, so throw them away and buy a new pair.

Beware of infection

In rare cases, using ear plugs for prolonged periods can cause ear infections, tinnitus and even hearing loss. But safe, sensible use will help you stay clear of any problems.

Can you hear alarms?

If you wear ear plugs at home, make sure you can still hear important warning sounds from your smoke detectors and similar devices.

Remember how precious and sensitive your hearing is. An electric lawnmower is 100 decibels, yet the maximum recommended exposure to the level of sound pressure is just 15 minutes.

We can say this with confidence: everyone should have a pair of ear plugs to protect their hearing.

Discuss your options at The Hearing Care Partnership

From custom-moulded silicone ear plugs to throwaway foam ear plugs, we’ll help you find the right ones. Contact us today on 0800 52 00 546, pop into your nearest THCP practice, or book your free hearing test with us online.