Foam Earplugs Causing Sudden Hearing Loss and Vertigo?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Coyotesheaven, Apr 7, 2022.

    1. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multiple
      Figured I'd write and ask if there is any danger from wearing foam earplugs regularly for the middle or inner ear? Episodes of sudden hearing loss have been a consistent problem for me for years when wearing these plugs, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm doing something wrong.

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      Basically I often lose a bit of my hearing when inserting earplugs, or while wearing them if the pressure in the outer ear builds at all (just moving my head or tensing my jaw can do it). I don't insert the plugs all the way due to having narrow canals and pressure sensitivity, and only insert them just enough to make a weak seal so I can mitigate street noise.

      The hearing losses are often temporary, and seem to be confined to the low frequencies. I sometimes have weak tinnitus but not in every instance. I can also get vertigo, balance and spatial processing issues, and strange numb or fuzzy sensations going around my neck and around my ear, as if other peripheral nerves or sensory functions have been impacted. Pain and pressure in my outer ear and trigeminal nerve branches is also common.

      A long time ago I was diagnosed with inner ear migraines and may have mild microvascular issues affecting the labyrinth and cochlear region. Some researchers have theorized that these migraines can be triggered by pressure inputs in my middle ear through the Eustachian tube, the middle ear muscles, or even when input pressure increases on the eardrum.

      Inner ear vasospasm has been implicated as a possible cause for rapid removal of foam earplugs as well, but not when properly inserting/wearing them.

      I'm not sure if these losses are even sensorineural. Does anyone know if the nerves lining the ear canal and eardrum, or the blood vessels that supply them, can be disturbed by the mechanical friction and pressure earplugs produce? I'm wondering if that may be my problem and not something occurring in the inner ear.

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      All that said, just wanted to figure out if this is a common occurrence/known danger of earplug use. Thank you for any input/research links/insight.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. blamingeverything

      blamingeverything Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      high frequency hearing loss
      My audiologist told me there aren't any risks to wearing earplugs appropriately. I think you just have a correlation here but hey, I'm not going to tell you absolutely not!
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. DimLeb

      DimLeb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic Cochleopathy or Maybe Loud Music
      I can't really link any research for this, but I don't think foam earplugs can cause all these problems. I know that (for me at least) earplugs, after being pulled out, can cause a "muffled hearing" feeling or a blocked sensation maybe due to displacing some earwax or pulling a bit the canal's skin, but that certainly isn't some kind of real hearing loss.

      I personally don't like foam earplugs, because I'm scared of pushing my earwax (having lots and lots) way too deeply. Have you tried musician's earplugs or even earmuffs that go over the ear?
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multiple
      Yea, I was having vasoconstriction events elsewhere in my head and body yesterday, so I think I just got really unfortunate with the earplugs being a catalyst for an already-brewing storm this time. Never lost so much hearing from earplugs before.
       
    5. Alue
      No Mood

      Alue Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      They shouldn't cause any problems. Just try to pull them out slowly instead of yanking them out.
       
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