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Archive for August, 2012

As you may well know, earplugs fulfill the demand of occluding the ear from water, foreign bodies, and noise.  Although earplugs are imperative to protect the eardrums and ear canals from damage, there are certain dangers of wearing earplugs that are often overlooked.  

We all know of the benefits of wearing earplugs, for example a teenage concert junkie can protect their hearing with the help of earplugs. The decibel of sound entering their ear will be lowered with the assistance of the earplugs, preventing long-term hearing damage.  They are also useful at preventing water from going into the ear canal while swimming, preventing ear infections.

However, as a lifeguard at a community pool, I began to recognize a hidden danger of wearing earplugs. The other day a young camper, who was wearing a pair of earplugs, was playing water volleyball in the pool with her friends. She was talking to a friend, not paying attention to the game when the ball hit her right ear lodging her earplug deep into her ear canal. She came to me with overwhelming fear and pain regarding her ear, urging me to remove the stuck earplug. After seeing the damage to her ear, I knew I could not help her. We had to call for an ambulance, and she had to go to the ER immediately. Later, I found out that she suffered from eardrum perforation, which can cause permanent damage to the ear if not treated by a professional.

Scenarios similar to this young camper’s injury happen everyday, and many individuals have no idea what the correct action is to take when faced with similar dilemmas. For example, an individual may try to remove the lodged earplug from the ear canal, which can ironically lead to severe ear damage. Most individuals do not understand the anatomy of the human ear and the irreversible damages that can occur in not seeking medical attention.

In addition to ear perforation, earplugs can cause impacted earwax, which includes tinnitus (ringing in the ear), discharge, pain, and infection. It is also known to muffle your hearing causing a temporary conductive hearing loss. This can be caused by not properly cleaning your earplugs allowing bacteria to develop on the plug.

Preventive measures to take:

–       When wearing earplugs you should be cautious of your surroundings. The environment in which you surround yourself with while wearing earplugs will have an impact on the damages that can occur to your ears.

–       Do not leave earplugs in your ear for an extensive period of time, because it can cause a temporary hearing handicap by muffling sound. This is dangerous while driving, walking alongside a busy road, riding a bike, and etc. In addition to this, it may cause pain and irritation by trapping air in the ear canal.

–       Properly and fully insert earplugs.

–       Do not sleep with a pair of disposable earplugs in your ears because it may lead to minor infections.

A guide to picking out the right earplugs:  http://site.earplugstore.com/reusable_consumer_plugs.htm

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