Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ears .. To Plug or Not To Plug ...

Well I'm all for safety and my hearing is precious to me. As I have a degenerative hearing problem that just means I'm going to be deaf eventually anyway I am all for protecting what hearing I have left. Specially since I didn't protect it when I was younger and sillier. I have been looking for earplugs for when I'm riding for a while now.

I started out going to Bunnings and getting the $3.00 earplugs from the power tool section.

I put them in the way they told me to and waited for them to expand ... intense pain. Yep I have sensitive ears but sheesh not that sensitive. Something must be wrong. So I read the instructions and put them in again .... eeeeek ... I clawed them out as fast as I could. OK they weren't quite that painful but yeah they hurt still. I did the only thing I know to do when I'm after an answer to a question ... I Googled the earplugs. I found a number of posts on forums from people who said that these types of earplugs hurt them, the solution most people seemed to go for was getting custom made ones.

That solution seemed to be a last resort, I looked at a few online and found out about some that Muso's use with the help of a fellow blogger's comment. They looked the part and I was going to go have a look at what was available from my local music shop when I closed down. Hmmm ...  OK I was going have to take a look at what was available at the Hearing Centre's in town. This town has 2 Hearing Specialist Centres that I know of and I wouldn't be surprised if there were more, it seems there's a roaring trade for hearing centres in Dubbo .. must be all the machinery those farmers work with all day. And then I forgot all about earplugs.

I went all winter without thinking bout them, well I didn't ride that much through winter. Then when spring came I thought of them .. once or twice. On a work trip to Sydney I noticed a sign for earplugs on the back of the toilet door in the ladies at the airport. Oh they looked good, I should go check it out while I wait for my flight. I found a good book first though and forgot about them again for another month.

I reckon by now your thinking that I'm really not serious about protecting my hearing like I said at the start of this post but really I am, I'm just a bit slack with some things sometimes. If something isn't in my face then I tend to forget it easily and that's what kept happening with the earplugs. Then one day I was shopping and spotted the plugs that I'd seen on the back of the toilet door, it seemed like fate that I happened on them at a time when there was nothing to distract me from them so they went in the trolley.

The first thing I did when I got home was pull these babies out and start playing with them, they are silicon and are supposed to mold in and seal your ear, I couldn't fit the whole thing in so I broke one in half and stuck it in as I was reading the warnings on the back of the packet .. "WARNING: Use whole earplug. Do not cut, break apart or elongate." Ahh oops, well I put it back together and had another go with the whole thing ... ouch it actually changed the pressure in my ear and hurt, and it didn't fit in, there was some hanging out over my earlobe.

They weren't going to do the job but they did get me moving a bit on getting something that would work. It was only a couple of weeks later that I remembered to drop into one of the Hearing Specialist places on the way home from work one day. I asked about earplugs and got a perplexed look, I wonder why I get those looks so much I'm pretty sure I'm speaking the same language as other people. It's odd that a hearing place doesn't have much in the way of protective equipment. I finally got the girl to understand what I wanted and she told me the only thing I would be able to get would be custom made earplugs and they were expensive ... $198.00 a pair! I told her I'd get back to her. I was hoping there would be another answer.

Then I went to the other music shop that I had finally remembered about (this is the one that didn't close down) and ordered two different types of smaller earplugs made for ladies. This was looking promising.

They arrived the other day and the first thing I did was play with them again. The more expensive ones were silicon again but smaller, they fit in my ear but they still did that pressure thing to my ear too, felt like I was underwater and getting beyond my depth. And the warnings on the back of this one were even more worrying ... "If you push the earplug into your ear canal do not try to remove it yourself. See an Ear, Nose And Throat Specialist ...." Ummm I'm starting to really worry about these silicone plugs.

The other ones were nice and cheap, and they are pink! They are just a smaller version of the ones I originally tried from Bunnings. I rolled one up and popped it in .. it expanded .. it didn't feel like it was exploding in there. There was no pain. Yay we have a winner!!

So I stuck them in a few times round the house, just to see if they were comfortable, I didn't wear them for long at any time and I now have a bit of a sore ear. I don't think it's related but I'm going to wait til the ear gets better before I try them on the bike. I don't think I'll be riding very far any time soon anyway the weather has gotten a tad warm and is tipped to get warmer in the next week. So the only trips we did this weekend were to the coffee shop for lunch and home again. If these plugs cause issues with my ears I'm actually not sure what I will do maybe I'll have to shop around a bit more but I'm just not really keen to pay $200.00 for the custom ones when they may not be suitable for me either. I'll just have to see how the pink babies go first, fingers crossed they aren't going to cause me pain and weren't the cause of the ear infection I have now.


  1. Finding comfortable earplugs was so hard for me. I swear I have feakishly small ear canals. None worked. I even tried little swimmer ones for kids. They just plain hurt. I rode without earplugs for years. It wasn't until the last two that I've been wearing them.

    I swear by these little ones:

    They are small and are a molded soft silicone that you press in your ear using the little blue plastic piece inside the shell. They are the only ones I've found that don't hurt. I think because they are small. I found them at our local motorcycle accessory shop.

    If you want to try some and can't find them or shipping if horrendous from online. Send me an email with your address - link is in my profile - and I'll pick up a set and mail them to you.

    1. Thanks for the link Brandy, you've linked those for me before and that's what got me thinking of music stores to start with. The Pink ones I'm going to try are the same brand I think so I'm on the right track eh :)

      I'll try these ones out and see how they go, if they don't give me joy I might try to get some of the others ..I found a bunch on Ebay that don't charge postage so I shouldn't have too much trouble there. Thanks for offering to send them tho, was nice that you thought to do that :)

  2. I am not a big fan of earplugs either as I haven't found ones that don't hurt my ears. Thankfully my hearing hasn't been affected by riding (and I was never one for loud music etc.) so I continue to ride without. I wear a beanie or scarf under my helmet though which covers up my ears. It certainly tones down the noise a bit.

    1. Ahh a beanie or scarf is a great idea, and I dont think I get as much noise in winter when I'm wearing a scarf but in summer ... not so good.

  3. I am going To get custom ones made. My ear canals are too tiny & the off the shelf ones are too big. I have noticed a huge difference in helmet noise since getting my Shoei helmet. Luckily custom made earplugs are only about $100 here.

    1. I thought they would be about $100 here too and I might have done that but at twice that and not knowing if they will still hurt or not (it's the pressure thing and the pushing wax and debri into the ear canal causing infections that I'm worried about as well as fit) I dont really want to fork out for that much.

      As soon as the weather cools down a bit I'll test the Pink ones out properly on a ride. Here's hoping this is the end of the saga :-D

  4. If you want to try custom plugs without forking out big cash, check out the hunting section of your local sportswear store for Radians Custom Molded Earplugs. I think I paid less than $12US for mine.

    1. Oh thanks for that Troubadour, we have a couple of gun shops in town that I've actually tried to forget exist, but they might just carry something like that. I'll check it out.