Millions of Americans experience hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises. Fortunately, many are able to protect their hearing through the use of earplugs. Disposable and custom-made earplugs can both provide protection, but according to experts, custom is the best options.
How Earplugs Help
Soundwaves travel through the ear until they reach your cochlea, which is lined with millions of tiny hair cells. These hair cells convert the vibrations into electrical impulses, which are sent on to the brain to be processed as sound.
Exposure to loud noises over time can permanently damage these tiny hair cells, causing noise induced hearing loss.
Earplugs can prevent these loud noises from reaching the ear and causing irreversible damage. But not all earplugs provide the same level pf protection.
The most common type of disposable earplugs are slow-recovery foam earplugs, which make up 75 percent of all disposable earplugs sold in the United States. To place these earplugs correctly, they must be rolled up into a cylinder and inserted deep into the ear canal. The earplugs will then slowly expand, filling the ear canal.
This process can take up to two minutes. Unfortunately, many do not wait long enough, and they do not get the highest level of noise protection.
How Custom Earplugs Are Made
To create a custom earplug, your audiologist must first create a mold of your ear. This mold is sent off to a lab where a technician creates a unique set of earplugs guaranteed to fit the proportions of your ear.
Earplugs can be produced in a number of materials, with silicone being the most popular option. The earplugs last between three to five years with proper care.
Benefits of Custom Earplugs
There are many benefits to wearing custom earplugs.
All Sizers Can be Fit
Unlike disposable earplugs, custom-made models can be made to fit any healthy ear. Users with ears that are too large or small or those with unusual shapes caused by trauma, disease or surgery can benefit from custom-made protection.
Impressions Last Five Years
If you lose your earplugs, they can easily be replaced, as your impressions are kept on file. Molds last for about five years; after that your ears may have changed and a new impression must be taken.
In order for disposable earplugs to be effective, they must be inserted deep within the ear, causing pressure and a plugged-up feeing. Custom earplugs are created to match the contours of your ears, leading to a secure and natural fit.
To learn more about the benefits of custom-made earplugs or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at Texas ENT & Allergy today.