What are the effects of ear plugs?

Mon 4 Aug, 2008 03:46 am
Since I am a light sleeper, I wear ear plugs every night when I go to sleep. In fact, I have been doing this for several years now. I had not considered the health risks until recently, when I was idley cleaning out the inside of my ear, as I regularly do out of habit, and it started bleeding. Although the bleeding was no doubt caused by over-vigourous scratching, it got me think about whether long-term use of ear plugs could damage your hearing. I have not suffered any noticable hearing loss - if anything, I seem to have better and more sensitive hearing than my peers.

Wikipedia suggests that significant damage can occur if the ears are not cleaned regularly. She says (yes, Wikipedia is a she) that simply moving the jaw aids the ears' natural cleaning process, and that chewing gum can acheive this. Is my pen sufficient or should I start chewing gum?

However, some people claim that ear plugs cause no harm as long as they are changed regularly. The first person adds that the ears must be cleaned regularly, which brings me back to the gum.

Apart from that, I couldn't find any solid evidence supporting any side. Can anyone help me out?
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Mon 4 Aug, 2008 03:53 am
My old mum used to say never put anything in your ears except your elbow.
Tue 5 Aug, 2008 08:27 pm
the only side effect of earplugs than I can think of is that they would disrupt the normal cleaning effect of your ear canal. The ears produce oils (wax) to capture foreign particles and it works that oil toward the exterior canal. Consistently blocking that "flow" might cause irritation of the canal.

I would think in the future that you could be more consistent in cleaning the outer ear canal to prevent irritation.

The outer ear has a remarkably limited amount of bloodflow. Early societies knew this and that is one of the reasons why ears were a common target for modification; earrings, elongation, etc. The reason I mention that is twofold. First, bleeding from the ear rarely indicates an infection. Usually infections of the ear are accompanied by other discharges like pus or clear water. Secondly, try to determine where the blood is coming from. If its coming from the outer ear, (the part normally cleaned by a Qtip) its probably a temporary irritation that will fix itself. I might suggest daily treatments with a few drops of peroxide until it clears.

If its coming from the inner ear or if you are experiencing hearing loss, it might be a more serious issue.

The reason I replied is only because I had a lot of ear infections as a child; to the point where my right ear only hears about 70% of my left. I'm no expert, so I have to cover my butt by saying, "see a doctor," but I thought I'd just share my experiences.

By the way, aperson... I got your PM a while ago but I couldn't reply. No worries on that issue; nothing but love and respect. Smile
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Fri 18 Dec, 2009 06:47 am
I've been using wax earplugs for sleep for some time. This week on two days I found myself getting instantly and violently dizzy (room flying around me fast) and nauseous when I lay on my left side. I experimented and found out it only happened when I had the earplugs in. I've been sleeping badly the last two months and thought it was because of a work schedule/sleep schedule change, but now I'm wondering if the earplugs have been throwing me off.
Fri 18 Dec, 2009 10:40 am
Dizziness can be associated with the ears (especially the inner ear) so the earplugs may be a contributing factor to something going wrong with your ears. Nothing to mess around with, I definitely recommend having it checked out.

I used to wear hearing aids that had "heavy duty" earmolds, which amounted to ear plugs with a thin wire emerging from them. The wire didn't allow any airflow, just went to the microphone + apparatus of the hearing aid's earpiece. I had to have my ears cleaned regularly. Definitely something a professional needs to do -- you REALLY don't want to mess around with cleaning your own ear canal (and when you have earplugs, that's where the buildup occurs).

With regular professional cleaning, I was fine wearing them for ~ 16 hours a day for about five years.
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Wed 19 Jan, 2011 10:18 pm
Hmmm.. I have been wearing ear plugs for a few years as my husband snores badly. Recently been suffering from bad vertigo, which I think is caused by the inner ear. Anyway, I had violent dizziness and nausea as you just described - wonder if there really is a link. I had it badly about 2 months ago for one day and then have had it now and it lasted 3 days. Could not even make myself a cup of tea without banging into walls. Have you had any further prognosis on your issue?
Thu 3 Feb, 2011 08:32 am
hmmm, i'm looking for answers to a dizzy problem that's been almost daily since August. i've been wearing ear plugs every night for the same issue for about a year. I have been dizzy, had ringing in the ears, and headachy. i've been to an ENT, neurologist, etc. and nothing was found. I'm wondering if I need to get my ears cleaned out, or if it's the ear plugs. It must be SOMETHING RIGHT???
Thu 3 Feb, 2011 10:10 am
If you've visited the ENT, they should be able to tell you if you need to have your ears cleaned out (and do it for you). If they looked and didn't find anything, then it's probably not that you need to have your ears cleaned (it's very obvious if it's necessary).

What did the ENT say? Are you supposed to have further tests?

ENTs can look straight into the ear canal (to see if it needs to be cleaned) and can see some of the middle ear beyond the ear drum. Beyond that, though, there would need to be further tests to know what is going on. (Dizziness is linked to the inner ear.)
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Tue 8 Feb, 2011 12:44 am
Ear plugs can be used in cases such as high altitude ear pressure problems or cold airy weather. My granny used them all her life. But they were cotton. And she seems fine. No hearing problems what-so-ever.

I believe the material, you use as ear plugs, should also matter in such cases.

A product developed for Air Force pilots can also provide relief to those with blocked ear / sinus tubes. Called "Ear Planes," these ear plugs protect the eardrum from rapid or large ambient changes in pressure by allowing the pressure changes to take place slowly through a passage in the ear plugs. Plus they are patented products. very safe for to be used for longer period.
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Thu 10 Mar, 2011 03:54 pm
I've been using ear plugs for 1 month now and I've been feeling dizzy and light headed and at times I feel like I'm going to loose my balance and fall... I went to the doctor and he told me it's probably due to the use of ear plugs (I hope that's the cause). It's not a great feeling. For those that are having a problem, read Psalm 121 and everything will be fine!
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Thu 16 Jun, 2011 12:42 pm
About a year ago I was suddenly hit with a horrible case of vertigo which lasted a couple months. I went to the ENT and nothing was found. My bloodwork showed that my B-12 levels were extremely low so I immediately began B-12 injections which helped with the vertigo and eventually it went away completely. Earlier this year, I started wearing earplugs everynight because I too am a light sleeper and my boyfriend is a snorer. Lately, I noticed feeling quite off-balance. This feeling is different then the vertigo though. If you have ever been on a boat for a few days and then you get off and you still feel like you are rocking back and forth, that's what it feels like. When my eyes are closed, I can not stand still and will sway or fall to one direction. When I get out of a moving vehicle, I feel like I am still moving. When stopped at a traffic light, I feel like I am still moving. I clean my ears every morning and night. I just had by B-12 retested and the level is good now, so I am not sure what the problem is now and thought maybe it had something to do with the ear plugs?!? Not to mention the ringing in my ears.
Thu 30 Jun, 2011 01:10 am
continuous use of ear plug will definitely cause bad effect on ears as we know the volume of plug is normally very high.
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Mon 27 Feb, 2012 06:05 pm
You probably have a condition called PERNICIOUS ANEMIA. Please have yourself tested for this. It causes your exact symptoms and the fact you tested low to B12 I could almost be sure your a candidate. In Pernicious Anemia, a person has low B12 + (low Folic acid too in some). Taking a supplement will not help as your stomach will not absorb it in people w/this disorder. You must get B12 injections, or they now make a convenient highly effective B12 nose spray + you need Folic acid. Symptoms are, blood test showing low levels of B12 and/or Folic acid, usually high RDW on reg. labs, tummy upset such as diahrea or constipation, close your eyes and if you began swaying or fall over-major sign of Pernicious Anemia, fatigue due to low B12, and nauseua/dizzy, vertigo-the more severe vertigo images will seem to slur when you attempt to focus on them. To test for this is very simple, just a set of labs. People are not usually checked for this, so you must be your own advocate and request your doc order labs. Good luck and God Bless.
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Mon 1 Oct, 2012 11:51 am
I have been using foam earplugs for 22 YEARS every night. I've never had a problem. I clean my ears with a qtip after I shower. last week I got a maroon color dried blood on the qtip from one ear. Had no idea what caused it, and then noticed my earplug had dried blood on it. It may have taken 22 years for anything to happen. No pain, and it didn't bleed since. It was only one time. Could be how much I pushed the earplug in and the angle of my head/pillow that cause a tiny vessel to burst. I'll get it checked out sooner or later. I've always trimmed the length of the ear plug with scissors! The full length straight out of the package will, and does, cause discomfort, so trim it so that when you push it in, there isn't excess plug sticking out your ear to be pressed into the pillow and cause excess pressure on the canal. Also, pertaining to cleaning, I have often used the same foam ear plugs for 2 months without changing with NO problems for 22 years. Never had an ear infection in that entire time. So I am a great use case for LONG term usage and affects. However, before using foam ear plugs I tried wax ear plugs 22 years ago, and within 2 days my ears were killing me and were infected. ALWAYS use foam, never wax! The wax holds bacteria, the foam must kill bacteria obviously! Hope this helps.
Mon 1 Oct, 2012 12:01 pm
I've been using foam ear plugs for about 10+ years. It's not the fact that the foam itself is antibacterial but that the manufacturers add/treat the foam with some kind of antibacterial treatment or at least that are the kind of foam ear plugs that I've been using.

Never noticed any bleeding myself. I'll keep an eye out for any potential problem. Most likely its a different/unrelated one time thing.
Sat 20 Oct, 2012 10:33 pm
I am reading your response, and am thinking "that's me!" Been using them every night for 22 years with no problem. I don't trim 'em down, but probably should, since I occasionally get a bad pain if I sleep on an ear too long. Will try the trim. I wear a pair about 10 days or so. Never had an ear infection and never had bleeding. There would have been bood, I'm sure, if I didn't wear the plugs as my husband snores like a freight train!
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crestline 39
Tue 18 Dec, 2012 05:18 pm
I am having violent episodes of vertigo,first one I collapsed in shower and everything at night was spinning for a week following.It is 6 mon. later and again the room is spinning, and chronic fatigue.I wear ear plugs at night because I am light sleeper and have done this for about 1 year.I have to wonder if there is link?The doctors have no answer?
Tue 18 Dec, 2012 09:04 pm
I never noticed earplugs have what bad influence.
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Fri 11 Jan, 2013 09:08 pm
I would always be so tired around 9PM, then I would wake up at 3 or 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I wouldn’t take any sleeping pills the doctor wanted to prescribe and couldn’t figure out why I would wake up so early, well the doctor advised me to try ear plugs after telling him I was a light sleeper.

It worked, they’re soft plugs and I don’t hear a thing while I’m sleeping and now I get an extra hour or two of sleep before waking up. It’s after ten PM here now and I’m still up. I’m staying up another half an hour then hitting the sack.
Fri 11 Jan, 2013 09:36 pm
I too sleep SO MUCH better now that I've been using the soft earplugs. Welcome to the army of earplug users JC. Smile
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