Won't earplugs make my ears ring?
The short answer is "no, not really." What is much more likely is that a person already has tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but doesn't notice the ringing so much when surrounded by typical day to day sounds. However, the ringing becomes much more noticeable when the environment is very quiet (such as at night) or when wearing earplugs or earmuffs. In either case, ambient/background noise is reduced, and ringing in the ears is now more audible and unfortunately, more annoying.
Because wearing earplugs or earmuffs is necessary to protect your hearing against loud noise, it may take some getting used to when first wearing hearing protectors. Most people report the tinnitus lessens as they get used to wearing hearing protection (and as ears are better protected against the effects of noise). The alternative is far worse – failing to wear hearing protection in loud noise can lead to permanent hearing loss and progressively worse tinnitus over time. If your tinnitus is severe or getting worse, check with a medical professional.
To learn more about causes, possible treatments, and work-arounds like white noise maskers, see our SoundBytes article.
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