Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question.
Prolonged use of earplugs can, in some instances, lead to problems in
the ear canal. Like any foreign object inserted into the ear the mere
presence of the plug can cause irritation and soreness. If the
irritation leads to inflammation or a breaking of the skin it can
result in infection (Otitis externa). In addition, depending on the
type of material the earplug is made of, it can harbor harmful
bacteria that can result in infection of the ear canal and, if bad
enough, the inner ear. Warm, moist, foam-type plugs (polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) or polyurethane) are particularly good breeding grounds
for such bacteria.
The ear is designed to ?breathe? and to drain naturally. The insertion
or prolonged use of earplugs without proper hygiene and removal of
excessive earwax can lead to an impaction. This can prove quite
painful if not merely bothersome. We cannot, by policy, provide
medcial advise as our disclaimer indicates, but as a general rule my
research has indicated that a well-fitting earplug accompanied with
good hygiene is relatively safe. It might be some added protection to
use disposable plugs to insure that you are getting a bacteria free
plug on each use. This should help minimize potential exposure to
harmful organisms that can cause medical problems.
I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher
OTITIS EXTERNA: INFECTION OF THE EAR CANAL
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