Setting the Regional Gold Standard in Hearing Services and Patient Care for More than 30 Years

Sylva, NC 828-586-7474
Franklin, NC 828-524-5599
Murphy, NC 828-835-1014

Are Custom Earplugs Effective?

a pair of foam ear plugs

Custom-molded earplugs are extremely popular because they are just as, if not more, effective for preventing noise-induced hearing loss as disposable earplugs. 

Custom earplugs are laboratory-made earplugs made from molds taken by trained, experienced audiologists. They are usually made from acrylic or soft silicone so that they can fit the ear and the ear canal tightly and comfortably. The great thing about softer earplugs is that they can change shape slightly as you wear them. This makes them comfortable when your ear canal changes shape when you are talking or chewing. This means that you are always protected, no matter what you are doing.  

Custom earplugs also exert no pressure and fit your ear canals perfectly.  They usually last longer than other types of earplugs and have a lower cost-per-use, even though they are more expensive to buy in the first place.  

So, how effective are they and why? 

The custom-molded earplug's silicone material lasts anywhere between three and five years, or sometimes longer. This will depend on how you care for them if they are regularly cleaned, they will last longer than those that aren't. 

What's great about custom – molded earplugs are that they can be made to fit any healthy ear or any ear free from drainage. If you have an unusually shaped ear, this could be due to birth trauma, disease or surgery; you can still be fitted successfully with custom-molded earplugs, whereas disposable earplugs are designed for normally shaped pinnae and ear canals.

Not only are custom earplugs made to fit you, but they are also made for your environment. For example, they can be made with filters that make them appropriate for the amount and type of noise reduction you need.  Custom earplugs are able to provide about 25 to 30 dB of noise reduction, but if you need this lowered, then filters can be inserted to make this right for you. For example, if you are working in less than 90 dBA of noise, you might only need 15 dB or so of noise reduction. Do be aware, though, that custom earplugs with filters need more care and attention when it comes to looking after them.

More comfort

Comfort is one of the biggest reasons why people choose custom earplugs. Once they are inserted, most people report being as physically aware of them as they are of wearing a watch or ring. Because it is custom-made, it should fit perfectly in the ear with no sensation of pressure. This is rarely the case for disposable earplugs. So, to be effective, these must apply pressure to the ear canal walls. 

If you're going to choose custom earplugs, then it is also essential to be aware of the disadvantages they have as well. 

Like with many things, you will need some time to get used to them. Custom-molded earplugs have a break-in period, and you might need to use lubrication when putting them in for the first few times. Do this for as long as you need to, it's perfectly normal because when the silicone of the earplug is first removed from curing, it is incredibly smooth and dry, so applying petroleum jelly, allows the earplug to be smoothly twisted into place. After you have done this about ten or so times, the surface of the earplug will slide more easily over your skin of the ear canal.

As mentioned, you need to clean your custom earplugs regularly, so you should do this with warm water and a cloth or some non-detergent soapy water and this way, they should keep their softness and stay easy to put in. However, if you clean them with a detergent, then you may need to resort to a re-break-in period again. 

The cost of use for custom earplugs is quite rightly more than it is for disposable earplugs, and it may seem like a significant expense upfront. However, the amount that you use them will mean that they have less cost per use than disposable earplugs, so for most people, they are well worth it. 

To learn more about Salyer Hearing Center call at: Sylva: 828-586-7474, Franklin: 828-524-5599 or Murphy: 828-835-1014