Are Earplugs Bad for Your Ears?


Earplugs can be used to block out excess noise while sleeping or attending loud events like rock concerts. But can they cause damage to your ears? Experts say if used properly, earplugs are not bad for your ears.

One pair of earplugs.
One pair of earplugs. (Image: Radu Sporea/iStock/Getty Images)


Earplugs are small objects, usually foam, wax or silicone, inserted into the ear to protect against exposure to loud noise. Some people use earplugs while swimming to keep water out of their ears or while flying to reduce inner-ear pain.

Yellow earplugs.
Yellow earplugs. (Image: Norasit Kaewsai/iStock/Getty Images)


Ear specialists are fond of saying, “Never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear.” Earplugs are obviously smaller than your elbow, so people are rightfully concerned about whether their use could be bad for their ears.

Ear doctor.
Ear doctor. (Image: Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Proper use

For best results, foam earplugs should be rolled into a narrow cylinder and inserted into the ear canal. The plugs will expand to fit the contours of your ear.

Foam earplugs.
Foam earplugs. (Image: pjmt73/iStock/Getty Images)


Earplugs are generally not harmful unless pushed too far into the ear canal. An earplug should never be inserted so far that you cannot grab and rotate the end of it with your fingers.

Wearing earplugs.
Wearing earplugs. (Image: igor terekhov/iStock/Getty Images)


Removing earplugs too fast can cause damage to the ear drum. Consumers are advised to pull them out slowly. Twisting them slightly can make removal easier.

Remove earplugs slowly.
Remove earplugs slowly. (Image: Norasit Kaewsai/iStock/Getty Images)

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