Who should use ear plugs?
Middle ear ventilation tubes
Use ear plugs or avoid getting the head wet, to keep the ears dry for one week after surgery. Then, you can choose whether to use ear plugs for bathing, showering or swimming. Ear plugs may not reduce the chance of infection, except in very young children or people more prone to infection.
Exostoses (Surfer’s ear)
Use ear plugs to prevent both growth in the ear canal from cold water exposure, or if you already have exostoses, to prevent water getting stuck behind the exostoses and causing blocked ear after swimming and surfing.
Recurrent otitis externa
Some people have recurrent infections in the skin of the ear canal due to water exposure and can have fewer infections if they use ear plugs for swimming, bathing and showering.
After major ear surgery
Your surgeon will advise you which plug to use and for how long. Keeping the ear dry reduces infection and helps healing after major ear surgery.
If you have a mastoidectomy cavity after treatment for cholesteatoma, you may get vertigo if warm or cold water enters your ear. An ear plug can prevent vertigo and can reduce the chance of infections in the cavity. Blu-Tack, mouldable or custom made ear plug are best for cavities.
What types of ear plugs can I use for water protection?
Proplugs are reusable plugs, in 8 sizes, that can be fitted by our practice nurse and purchased for $35.00 per pair. Pink and blue options are available. They last for 2-3 years.
Blu-tack is a putty-like, pliable substance that can be moulded and used as an ear plug. Packets of Blu-tack can be purchased at low-cost from supermarkets and newsagents. Silicone plugs can also be used, but may degrade over time and leave bits behind in the ear canal that need to be removed by your surgeon.
Custom made plugs are an option for patients who can’t retain or fit other types of plugs. Hearing aid providers can make custom ear plugs. The average cost is $100-200 per pair. They last 2-3 years.
What type of ear plugs should I use for noise protection?
Ear plugs and ear muffs can be used for noise protection. Exposure to loud noise damages hearing and is completely preventable. Resources to help you choose the right equipment can be found at VIC Worksafe and QLD Worksafe.
Ear plugs that are designed to reduce noise are not effective to use for water protection.