Important Information for Those Who Sleep with Earplugs and Want to Avoid an Ear Infection

Discussion in 'Support' started by Bill Bauer, Jul 11, 2019 at 4:35 PM.

    1. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I wear earplugs when I sleep. Normally I shower in the morning. Recently, I had a shower just before bed. After this shower, I inserted my earplugs and went to bed. The next morning I woke up with a serious ear infection. In order to get rid of it, I had to take antibiotics. I believe I got an ear infection because my ears didn't get a chance to dry out. The earplug created a moist environment where bacteria could thrive. So I think the lesson is to use earplugs only when the inside of your ears is dry. Specifically, don't wear earplugs to bed after you shower.
       
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    2. Allan1967

      Allan1967 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1997
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection
      Why do you wear earplugs when you sleep Bill?
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      My advice to anyone with tinnitus reading this thread. Do not wear earplugs when asleep as this can increase the tinnitus over time. By blocking off external sound, it is allowing the brain to focus more on internal sounds in the body and the tinnitus. Most Hearing Therapists and Audiologists that practice tinnitus and hyperacusis management with patients, advise: If the brain hears silence when asleep, it has the ability to increase its background activity at the same time the tinnitus will increase. This can make it louder and more intrusive during waking hours. For this reason using "sound enrichment" at night to supply the brain and auditory system is recommended as the brain and auditory system never switch off.

      In a similar way, people that develop tinnitus due to hearing loss, notice the tinnitus is reduced over time once fitted with a hearing aid/s. The hearing aid supplies the brain with additional sound from the outside environment that otherwise it wouldn't normally be able to hear. Therefore, the brain is less likely to increase its internal "gain" which acts like a volume control.

      Michael
       
      Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 at 7:17 PM
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I find it very difficult to fall asleep and very easy to be woken up. I want to ensure that I am not woken up by birds in the morning, one of my neighbours slamming their car door late in the evening or early in the morning, etc. It would take a long time for me to get back to sleep, should one of those sounds wake me up.
      Above you must have meant "do NOT wear earplugs at night." My personal experiences do not support your hypothesis above, but of course it is possible that others might be different.
       
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    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Bill Bauer

      My apologies and thank you for highlighting my mistake in typing. I have been working at home all day and a little tired. Fortunately I had time to correct my post.
       
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    6. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      +1 for earplugs at night.

      @Bill Bauer Infection of the outer ear (otitis externa) is facilitated by moisture. This is why is gets called "Swimmer's ear," so putting foam earplugs in after a shower makes a perfect moist environment to foster infection. Hope it clears up with the antibiotics. In the future, shower earlier, and some rubbing alcohol on a q-tip not too far into the ear canal can dry things up a little faster as the alcohol evaporates.

      @Michael Leigh Your advice for sound enrichment at night should be taken on a case by case basis. It certainly works for you from your posts, but not everyone, so be careful not to generalize (heck, no single treatment is the answer for every patient with a condition anywhere else in medicine either). Low level sound makes my tinnitus worse. After a good night's sleep, my tinnitus is often quite a bit better, but when I can sleep with foam earplugs, the effect is even greater in my experience. I habituated from a tinnitus level of 7-8, so intrusive it was waking me up, down to a 1-2 most days in about 9 months, and I credit the earplugs at night to helping this quite a bit. I think it is safe to say that sound enrichment vs earplugs vs nothing at night should be decided for each of us, and not a one size fits all solution. Also, if one is not working for them, people should not be afraid to try another option and see if it helps. When I tried some sound enrichment at night, at least for me, it did not help, and I was waking up with worse tinnitus.
       
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    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      It has already cleared up. This happened about three weeks ago. I will be more careful next time...
       
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    8. Jackjohnson183

      Jackjohnson183 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear wax removal
      @Bill Bauer

      Were you wearing foam earplugs?

      If you were inserting custom earplugs instead after having a shower would the chances of getting an ear infection decrease instead of using foam earplugs?
       
    9. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Anything that keeps the moisture in the ear can increase the risk of infection, whether the earplugs are from foam, silicone, or anything else.
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I was using 3M 1100 foam plugs. I think custom earplugs would also trap moisture inside of the ear. If one sleeps with them, then the moisture will be there for 6-8 hours...
       
    11. vttbx

      vttbx Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2001
      I wear earplugs to sleep for the exact same reason. I never had an ear infection as I use a small towel to dry inside my ear. If I don't do that, I'll get minor acne in my ear. I also prefer the silicone earplugs as they don't get itchy like the foam.
       
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    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Are you talking about custom earplugs? Do silicone earplugs provide a similar level of noise reduction to the foam ones?
       
    13. ABakos
      Wishful

      ABakos Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      ? neck injury/unknown
      @Bill Bauer
      Do you hear your tinnitus when you wear ear plugs? My tinnitus does not change when I wear ear plugs, still loud and annoying.
       
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    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      The posts that I write are advisory and it's up to the individual to make up their own mind whether they wish to follow them. For what it's worth I am correct and you are wrong.
      Good day.

      Michael
       
      Last edited: Jul 12, 2019 at 8:31 AM
    15. Jcb
      No Mood

      Jcb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      possible TMJ, came on after severe cold and chest infection,
      21101936-B908-44E4-AF8E-2A2CB0808A4C.gif
       
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    16. david c

      david c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2012
      My take on the "wearing earplugs at night" issue is:

      A bad night's sleep is one of the worst things for tinnitus. If you unlucky to be a very light sleeper (as I am) who is easily woken up by noise, then wearing earplugs is a sensible precaution against this.

      For those especially in the early stages of tinnitus it can often be very difficult to fall asleep in silence listening to the tinnitus sound. For those people, having some low-level background sound - whether it is a fan, radio on a low volume, sound machine etc- is a good idea.

      As with most things tinnitus, there isn't one "right" answer and each individual will need to find out what works best for them.
       
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    17. PeteJ
      Depressed

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      If tinnitus "noise" is very loud and high pitched, I think wearing plugs at night 'for sleep' would be torture.

      Tinnitus must be 'low noise' to use plugs then?
       
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    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      T = it takes a long time to fall asleep. [In my case I have been having trouble falling asleep ever since I was a baby.] It is a torture to be woken up, so no matter what level of T one has, if one is a light sleeper it makes sense to wear earplugs.
       
    19. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      You are absolutely correct. Anyone that doesn't agree with what you have said, knows nothing about severe intrusive tinnitus. Even more so they have never truly experienced it, otherwise they'd know differently...

      Michael
       
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    20. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      1
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      I've slept with silicone earplugs on and off for years because of ambient noises waking me up. In fact, when my ears were screaming monsters and I was borderline hyperacoustic, learning how to meditate with earplugs, and then sleep with them was pretty instrumental to improvement.

      I do not claim credit for this idea; it's been widely circulated for years and lots of people have had success with it.

      I actually started to do it out of desperation to do anything that might let my audio system calm down, and I think I sort of turned a corner as a result. At some point I became convinced I was having more quiet mornings after sleeping with plugs than not.

      I don't think about my tinnitus the same way anymore so I don't know if that effect is still relevant, but sleep is still important so ~4 years later I'm still sleeping with plugs a lot of the time and the only downside has been improved sleep.

      You do need to be a little concerned with using clean plugs, probably not using plugs that fill the canal (at least, foam plugs cause painful expansion in my head when I wear them for more than a couple hours), and if you're unlucky enough to have issues with earwax buildup then this can contribute and you'll need to be vigilant about safely keeping your ears clean-but-not-too-clean.

      The idea that sleeping with earplugs, even on a pretty regular basis, could somehow be neurologically dangerous seems strange to me and is without any basis in scientific literature, as far as I know. Studies have been done where people have worn earplugs 24/7 for weeks or months, and the upshot is generally minor changes (improvements) to auditory thresholds which reverse pretty quickly when the studies have wrapped up.
       
    21. sakrt
      No Mood

      sakrt Member

      Location:
      Og.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Specific issues
      Wondered about those with middle ear ventilation issues? In a sense like glue ear.
      Many of us have not been able to get the underlying ear-health pathology addressed, which created T/H.
      Next thing, people start wearing ear-plugs to lessen the noise input. You go to bed, lie down which is when blood swells up all around the ENT areas. This is why many people have sleep apnea. You would think ear-plugs would do the same thing to already fragile ears overtime, esp. if one has ETD and then close off at the ear canal with plugs? I guess in an ischemia sort of way?
       
    22. PeteJ
      Depressed

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      But, wearing earplugs means all you hear is the tinnitus noise.
       
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    23. carolinet617
      Tired

      carolinet617 Member

      Location:
      Apex, NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bupropion/possibly other factors
      Slightly off topic and just my experience, but I've noticed my T tends to spike anytime I take a shower. Not sure if it's the noise or water in the ears but I just ordered some waterproof earplugs to wear in the shower to see if it makes a difference.
       
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    24. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Back when my T was very loud, soon after the onset, I considered wearing earplugs 24-7 to speed up habituation. In the end I didn't do it as I was worried about getting an ear infection.
       
    25. PeteJ
      Depressed

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      I was thinking wearing plugs for 8 straight hours might not be good. That's a lot of pressure on the canals for a long time?

      I remember reading reviews on earplugs and lots of people wanted them for sleep. But, I wonder if you open yourself up to problems potentially.

      In saying all of that, my location has lots of sirens and other noisy vehicles.
      I would probably try plugs if not for the t noise and my problems wearing (foam) plugs.
       
    26. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Many people can get used to it.
      As long as the inside of your ears is dry when you put them in, it ought to be ok for most people.
       
    27. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      I only use solid silicon plugs, great noise reduction as good as the best foam ones and I make sure to spray those with ethanol just before inserting, which makes it easier to insert and of course avoid any infection,
       
    28. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Are you talking about custom earplugs?
       
    29. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      no regular solid silicon plugs
       
    30. F-u-T

      F-u-T Member

      Location:
      AZ USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trama
      A shower has the opposite effect for me. The shower muffles my T and usually seems quieter afterwards. Maybe the shower tends to be a relaxing effect on my body.
       

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