Pressure and Suction from Earplugs... Damage to Cochlea?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Coyotesheaven, Sep 11, 2016.

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    1. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Dysautonomia/Vascular
      Throughout the day I have been losing more low frequency hearing, and I really don't know why whatsoever (possibly road noise?), but it could be the earplugs I am wearing.

      I wear deep fitting foam earplugs which are great for external sounds. They also seem to minimize the occlusion effect to some degree. I am very careful to fit them in and take them out slowly.

      The problem is, fitting them tightly may present a positive pressure gradient which could be bad, and they can make 60+ low frequency decibel sounds when fitting them. I'm also not so sure they are accounting for occlusion effect. When I talk louder, for instance, I don't hear loudness in my head but I certainly feel it in my sinuses and it HURTS and hurts my head. Furthermore, on two occasions when I have gently pulled them out, I have had a loud wishy washy humming sound in the left ear which feels like a blood rush, which has lasted and dampened low and high frequency hearing. They have even caused a negative pressure gradient in my eustachian tubes.

      Am I damaging my own hearing with these earplugs???
       
    2. MikeP505
      Curious

      MikeP505 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Ontario Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Punishment for being so darn good looking!
      Maybe give noise cancelling headphones a try?
       
    3. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      The only issues with wearing plugs for long time is that they make earwax accumulate at the end of war canal as it cannot flow out
      Make sure to gently rinse the ear canal wiht soft warm water everyday that will dissolve and clean out the wax
      Also, it's much better to wear earmuffs as there is no risk wiht wax or sudden pressure changes ... Especially if you are a guy wiht short hair in the side that works well with ear muffs
       
    4. Gosia
      Balanced

      Gosia Member

      Location:
      France
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      earplugs/ hearing loss
      Most of all, don't abuse on earplugs. Plug only when the hearing damage is possible or simply avoid the loud places. Earplugs are nothing natural for the ears and shouldn't be put in too often. Secondly, once you 've put them in, don't yell, don't talk loud. Feeling pain in the sinuses while having plugged ears is so new to me I don't know what to say except that ot's most probably not normal. I'm not sure what kind of wooshing it is you hear when you take them out, but what's normal for earplugs to do is to temporarily increase T..or even lead to H. Earplugs mean many unanswered questions that's why I try to avoid them as much as possible and only use them for planes or very noisy streets that fortunately I don't have to bear too often. This pressure thing you talk about..interesting..if you don't push too strong, too far, I guess it should be fine, especially that the foam plugs must first be squeezed between your fingers and when you put them in they're thinner then the ear canal, only after a few moments do they swell ..either way, don't use them too much.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    5. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      it seems extremely unlikely to me.

      I routinely sleep for most of the night with earplugs in.

      I think the only danger is from pulling them out too fast.
       
    6. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Dysautonomia/Vascular
      @Gosia.

      Thanks for the info. The only thing I do is push the earplugs in a bit, even after inflammation, but I am very gentle and pretty cautious. Foam plugs are the safest in regards to pressure changes (aside from expensive musicians earplugs), and I don't realize them causing a lot of positive pressure in the ear canal when I put them in, unlike other types of earplugs (gel, twisties) that I have used.
      As for wearing them, I don't have much of a choice because any sudden or short term loud sound over 75-80 decibels can make my inner ear blood vessels spasm and cause hearing loss and/or migraines. It's like an extreme vulnerability to noise induced hearing loss, although that's not exactly what I have. Yea believe me, I hate wearing them too, a LOT.
       
    7. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Dysautonomia/Vascular
      Ok, I know I have been OCD about the earplug question recently, but I am just beginning to be further concerned about the safety of using them

      I've had multiple issues with my foam earplugs over the past couple of weeks, with hearing problems and pain and T being some of them.
      Today, I just happened to accidentally fit one of them too tightly into my ears. There was no pain, just a sensation of pressure. So I grabbed the earplug and slowly, gently pulled it out, but I could definitely feel the suction on my eardrum for how deep it went as I pulled on it, albeit there was hardly any pain. Once it was sufficiently out so that it did not create so much pressure, I stopped moving it. This was always an occurrence with the previous earplugs I wore, and nothing came about because of it.

      But this time I remember feeling a bit spatially "off" after gently pulling them out, but it was not due to vertigo or dizziness. Upon removing the earplugs, I have felt a bit of muffled hearing in that ear...again, and across all frequencies. My hearing feels inbalanced on either side of my head.

      To put it simply, it feels as if the suction and pressure exertion of the earplug was transferred to my eardrum, which then pulled or pushed on my middle ear bones, which then pulled or pushed on the stapes footplate of the oval window and disturbed the inner ear fluid, thus causing the hearing issues. I know that positive pressure in the external ear canal, as could happen when diving or on an airplane, can cause the stapes footplate to bulge inward into the oval window and send pressure forces through the cochlear fluid to the round window, and sometimes be strong enough to result in a fistula there. But I have read at least once that damage to the inner ear can occur without the fistula necessarily developing.

      I know this sounds nuts, but I am just wondering if anyone else thought of the same thing as a cause for their scuffles with earplugs. There is a general warning not to insert earplugs in too deeply because they could damage the eardrum, but I have never heard of this as an explanation as to what other kinds of damage they could do. I have only heard of this applying to violently yanking the earplugs OUT of the ear canal.

      Any thoughts?
       
    8. gotyoubynuts

      gotyoubynuts Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      While your physiological explanation seems to make sense, I am thinking your worry sounds hypochondriac type of deal.

      I don't think the pressure is enough to disturb the inner ear like that.

      But let me ask you, how would anyone know for certain? You will never know the answer so it's all hypotheses..
       
      • Useful Useful x 1
    9. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Dysautonomia/Vascular
      @gotyoubynuts

      First of all, interesting user name.

      Secondly, what if you had hydrops? Would that make a difference?
       

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