You may only use earplugs when you're trying to fall asleep in a noisy environment, but earplugs and earmolds can help your ears in a wide variety of situations, some of which may surprise you. Here are a few useful ways that earmolds can help protect your hearing health.
Protect Against Swimmer's Ear
Many swimmers experience chronic outer ear infections when water gets trapped in their ear canal, known as "swimmer's ear." Custom or moldable earmolds made of silicone or wax can help keep water out. They should be worn by anyone at risk for chronic swimmer's ear infections, who has pressure equalization tubes or perforated eardrums, or who swims in dirty or cold water.
Help Reduce Ear Pain on Planes
Special earplugs designed for flying don't just address sound exposure; instead, they mainly address the pain, popping, pressure, and discomfort that many flyers experience as a result of the quick change in air pressure when the plane takes off and lands. These plugs work by helping to equalize the air pressure in the ear canal and can help people who experience ear pain or sinus pressure while flying.
Help Musicians During a Performance
We all know how loud music venues can be, especially the smaller, enclosed venues so frequently found in New Orleans. Any sound that is higher than 85 decibels can start to damage the ears, and the World Health Organization found that 71% of music bars exceed 110 decibels. Musicians who frequently play at loud venues are at an increased risk of damaging their hearing if they don't protect their ears. Luckily, custom in-the-ear monitors are a type of earmold that can reduce sound levels by 20 decibels while still allowing the musician to hear the nuances of their practice or performance. An earmold is also great for the attendees who want to fully hear the performance without damaging their hearing.
The Importance of Protecting Your Ears
In any scenario where you're exposed to loud sound, you should consider your ears' safety. Many people experience hearing loss as a result of cumulative exposure to loud noises, known as "noise-induced hearing loss," which may lead to needing hearing aids. Luckily, earplugs and earmolds can help reduce this damage. New Orleans' High Level Speech & Hearing Center can create custom earmolds for swimmers, Jazz Fest-ers, and people who go to Saints games. In addition, at our Musician's Clinic, we can create custom in-the-ear monitors to help both local and on-the-road musicians protect their hearing without diminishing their performance.