How to Use Ear Plugs for Swimming

Don’t let your day at the beach or pool get ruined because water keeps clogging up your ears. Not only is the water filled with bacteria, but if it doesn’t completely dry out, then it can cause an ear infection known as swimmer’s ear, and that can really ruin your week. To prevent this, you should consider wearing swimming earplugs to make your aquatic activities much more enjoyable.

Earplugs are simple to use – you just plug them in your ears, making sure that they are firmly in your ear canals without pressing against your eardrums. These earplugs should keep water out and should not cause discomfort to your ears. You can even wear them under a swim cap or headband for a second layer of ear protection.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using ear plugs for swimming, how to choose the right ones for you, and tips for proper insertion and care.

Benefits of Ear Plugs for Swimming

Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

When you’re swimming, water may enter your ears, and bacteria can thrive in this moist environment. This can lead to a condition called otitis externa or swimmer’s ear as it’s more commonly known as, which is an inflammation and infection of the outer ear canal.

By using silicone earplugs, you prevent water from entering your ears, reducing the risk of developing swimmer’s ear.

Reducing Ear Infections

Earplugs can also help reduce the potential for ear infections by keeping germy water out of your ears. In chlorinated water, like swimming pools, chlorine may kill some bacteria, but it’s not always effective against all microbes. With earplugs in place, you’re blocking out this bacteria-laden water, making it harder for infections to develop in your ears.

Mitigating Middle Ear Complications

Middle ear infections, or otitis media, can occur when water becomes trapped in the middle ear, providing an environment for bacteria to multiply.

Although not as common as swimmer’s ear, middle ear infections can be painful and potentially more severe. Wearing earplugs while swimming can help reduce the chance of water getting trapped in your middle ear, lowering the risk of otitis media.

In addition, wearing earplugs can also make your swimming experience more comfortable by reducing the noise of loud swim pools and keeping debris out of your ears.

Ear Plug Types and Materials

To ensure you get the most out of your swimming experience, consider investing in a good pair of earplugs specifically designed for swimming. There are many types available, and in this section, we’ll go over them.

Silicone Ear Plugs

Silicone ear plugs are a popular choice among swimmers due to their durability, reusability, and comfort. These types of ear plugs are typically made from soft, hypoallergenic silicone material, which means they’re gentle on your ears and latex-free.

Many swimmers prefer silicone ear plugs because they can be easily washed and reused without losing their effectiveness in keeping water out. Many of them come in a flanged design which are highly effective at keeping water out.

Putty Ear Plugs

Putty ear plugs are made from soft, moldable materials like silicone putty. These types of ear plugs are designed to create a comfortable, customized seal in your ears. They’re ideal if you have difficulty finding the right fit with other ear plug types.

To use putty ear plugs, simply roll the material into a ball, press it firmly into your outer ear, and shape it to create a watertight seal.

Wax Ear Plugs

Wax ear plugs are another moldable option, created from a blend of waxes and cotton fibers. These ear plugs soften when exposed to body heat, making them easy to mold and insert in your ears.

Wax ear plugs provide a snug, comfortable fit and create a waterproof seal to keep water out during swimming. One downside to wax ear plugs is that they can become less effective over time as the wax loses its pliability.

However, they’re still a viable option if you’re searching for an alternative to silicone or putty ear plugs.

Custom-Fitted Ear Plugs

Custom-fitted ear plugs are a more personalized solution, tailored to the unique shape of your ears. These ear plugs provide the most secure and comfortable fit, reducing the chance of them falling out while swimming.

Custom-fitted ear plugs are usually made from soft plastic materials and can be created by audiologists or specialized companies. While they may be more expensive than other ear plug options, the investment can be worth it for the perfect fit and superior comfort.

Knowing the different types and materials of ear plugs on the market can help you find the best solution for your swimming needs. Choose between silicone, putty, wax, or custom-fitted ear plugs based on your preferences and budget, and enjoy a more comfortable and hassle-free swimming experience.

Step-By-Step Guide to Using Swimming Ear Plugs

Determining Proper Fit

To ensure maximum comfort and effectiveness, you need to find ear plugs that fit well. A proper fit will prevent water from entering your ear canal and protect your eardrums. Start by examining different types of ear plugs, such as moldable or flanged options.

If for some reason none of the earplugs fit your ear, then you really can’t go wrong with putty earplugs which can be molded into the exact shape of your ear canal. You can even combine two putties into a really big one for each ear if your ear canal is particularly large.

When choosing ear plugs for children, consider their age and the size of their ear canal.

You can test the fit by gently inserting the earplug into your ear. It should feel snug but not cause any discomfort. The earplugs should not touch your eardrums; that is a sign you have pushed them in too far.

Inserting Ear Plugs

Before inserting ear plugs, make sure your hands are clean to avoid introducing bacteria into your ears. For moldable ear plugs, gently roll them between your fingers into a cylindrical shape that will fit comfortably in your ear canal.

Next, pull your outer ear upward and backward to straighten your ear canal. Carefully insert the ear plug and press it into place, ensuring that it creates a watertight seal. Remember not to push the ear plug too deep, as this might cause damage to your middle ear.

For flanged ear plugs, hold the stem of the ear plug and insert it into your ear canal. Gently twist and push the plug until it forms a secure seal. Be cautious not to insert the plug too far, as it could risk harming your eardrums.

Removal and Care

Removing ear plugs requires care to avoid damaging your ear canal or eardrum. Grasp the stem or outer edge of the ear plug, then twist and pull gently to remove it. If the plug is difficult to grasp, try tilting your head to the side and gently wiggling the plug to loosen it.

After use, clean your ear plugs with soapy water or a specialized cleaning solution, as bacteria can grow on dirty plugs. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to air dry. Store your ear plugs in a clean, dry case to ensure they remain hygienic and ready for your next swim.

Maintenance and Replacement

Cleaning and Storage

To keep your ear plugs in optimal condition, you must clean and store them properly after each use.

To clean your reusable ear plugs, rinse them off in non-chlorinated water after each use. If needed, wash them gently with warm, soapy water using a soft brush or towel.

Be sure to let them dry on a clean towel before storing them away to prevent mildew growth. For disposable ear plugs, simply discard them after use and replace them with a new pair as necessary.

When it comes to storage, always store your ear plugs in a protective case to ensure their quality and durability. A case will protect them from dirt, debris, and other potential damage while they’re not in use.

By following these simple steps, you’ll extend the lifespan of your ear plugs and maintain their effectiveness in keeping water out of your ears.

When to Replace Your Ear Plugs

Being aware of when to replace your ear plugs is crucial for maintaining the best protection during your swimming activities.

Reusable ear plugs are generally durable, but over time, they can become less effective due to wear and tear. It’s essential to replace your ear plugs when you notice any changes in their performance, such as:

  • Difficulty maintaining a secure fit
  • Signs of degradation, like cracks or discoloration
  • A reduction in their ability to keep water out

Pay close attention to the condition of your ear plugs and replace them as needed to ensure optimal protection and comfort during your swimming sessions.

Remember, your ear health is vital, so invest in good-quality ear plugs and diligently maintain them to keep your ears safe while enjoying your time in the water.

Additional Tips and Precautions

Using Ear Bands for Extra Protection

If you want to enhance your ear protection while swimming or participating in water sports, consider using ear bands in addition to your ear plugs. Ear bands are designed to cover your ears and hold ear plugs in place, providing an extra layer of defense against water entering your ear canals.

They can be especially helpful if you’re prone to swimmer’s ear or have sensitive ears. To use an ear band, simply fit it snugly over your head and ears, making sure it covers the ear plugs and creates a secure seal.

Balancing Ear Pressure While Swimming

If you like to dive deep under the water and you are wearing swimming earplugs, be very careful about the pressure changes in your ear.

Typically, you can just do something called the Valsalva maneuver to equalize the pressure. This is when you pinch your nose closed and then gently blow air into your nostrils while keeping your mouth closed.

Under normal circumstances, that would balance the pressure in your ears. However, if your ears are sealed up by putty or wax earplugs, then the air is still trapped and the pressure will keep increasing.

That is why if you plan on diving underwater, you should specifically look for swimming earplugs with a small hole in their design, known as vented earplugs. Most swimming earplugs are vented; even with the hole, it still keeps water out but it also allows air to pass through it when you perform the Valsalva maneuver, meaning you can equalize your ear pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep earplugs in while swimming?

Keeping your earplugs in while swimming is mostly a matter of picking one that is the right size for your ear canal. If you find that the rigorous movements of swimming eventually dislodges your earplugs, then consider wearing a swim cap or swimming headband over your earplugs to ensure they remain in your ears while swimming.

Can you swim with earplugs if you have swimmer’s ear?

Swimming earplugs are exceptionally useful when you have swimmer’s ear since they can keep dirty water from entering your infected ear canal and disrupting the healing process. With that said, you should not be swimming at all until your ears are healed. Wear the swimming earplugs while you are showering or bathing to keep water out, and only resume swimming once your ear infection has fully healed.

Can I use regular earplugs for swimming?

Regular foam earplugs are a terrible option for swimming, as they are designed to block out noise and not explicitly made to keep water out of your ears. As such, water will seep in and reach your ears. Swimming earplugs are specifically made from water-resistant materials like silicone or wax and are shaped to form a tight seal in your ear canal to keep water out.