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Ear Plugs

“Ear plug connoisseur” is not a title I strove to achieve, but I’ve become an expert nonetheless. My requirements are fairly simple: cylindrical foam without a flange at the end, which makes them too long and applies pressure when I lie on my side. Seems easy to find, but it isn’t.

Flents Quiet Please! are my gold standard. Though even they have diminished in quality in recent years and no longer last as many wearings as they used to. I blame it on the recession. At less than $20 for 100 pairs from Amazon, at least they’re affordable, even though my internal environmentalist cringes whenever I throw them away.

I’ve been fooled recently by CVS’s version that looks to be identical. They are more rubbery than foam, which means they expand and hold their shape great. Unfortunately they expand so much that they exert enough pressure to make my ears sore, even when I don’t have a migraine. During a migraine, when my left ear often hurts, the earplugs make that pain excruciating. Also, they are so tight and impermeable that they cause moisture buildup in my ears even when I don’t have migraine night sweats. Ew.

Rite Aid, however, makes an excellent look-alike that I might even prefer to the latest incarnation of Flent’s Quiet Please! Unfortunately, they don’t sell them online and they have no stores in Arizona.

Because I wear ear plugs every night and often when I’m running errands — and I’m an environmentalist at heart — I’ve often considered custom-molded ear plugs, but Hart had a pair for a previous job and they never fit right, even after multiple adjustments. The potential hassle has kept me from pursuing this option.

Do you have a favorite ear plug or an experience with custom-molded ear plugs? Please share — I can’t be the only unintentional ear plug connoisseur with a story to tell!

9 Responses to Ear Plugs

  1. Bibi says:

    I don’t qualify as ear plug connoisseur, but have some experience with the subject. My favourites are silicone ear plugs, since my ears are too small for the foam ones. They fit very tight and are best at keeping sounds out in my opinion. They can be used several times and since my ears are small I only need 1/3 of the silicone in the package for both ears. Some years ago I got custom made ones, but I prefer the silicone.

    By coincidence I found out how to find great relief: When I ate salty licorice – a speciality in Scandinavia :-) my earpain started immediately. Taking out salt from my diet prevents most phonophobia for me now.

    A list with drugs that might cause ear problems:
    http://www.hyperacusis.net/hyperacusis/drugs+causing+tinnitus/default.asp

    Wish you a great time in Seattle!

  2. Kate says:

    I’d like more info on the custom-fit earplugs as I’ve wanted some. Although I don’t wear them too often (I would if they fit / worked better), I do need them for loud events like a movie theater, and sometimes for sleeping. I’m sensitive to noise like many of us. The standard ones never fit me correctly.

  3. I have found the very expensive Bose noise-canceling headphones to be excellent for certain situations. Not for sleeping, but when I need quiet (work on street, noise in my house, etc.), they subtract the edge on the noise and help me feel more peaceful even in the midst of a migraine. I got mine on eBay for a little cheaper. They really work to subtract sounds like a washing machine, etc.)

  4. Janiene says:

    Years ago (20 or 30) a doctor told my uncle to go to the toy section of the local store and get a package of silly-putty while his custom earplugs were being made. After he told us this (laughing all the while), I tried it. This became my favorite “earplug” because it conforms easily to the ear but causes no excess pressure, since there is none of the expanding as with foam earplugs. You can use as little or as much as you wish, and mold it to the contour of your ear. If you can find the old boring peachy colored putty, they aren’t very noticable. The new neon colors are a bit wild for me. Hope this helps.

  5. grant says:

    I agree with Katherine about the noise cencelling headphone. Sleeping is a diiferent matter. Fit seems to be the most common problem wth ear plugs.

    Has anyone tried a local gun range or shooting supply store?
    I am not a gun person but they have good ear plugs.

  6. Lizz says:

    I recently bought a multi-pack of assorted sizes and styles of ear plugs, so that I could try them and find some that worked for me, as many of the hard foam ones are too big and some soft ones just don’t eliminate enough noise. I think it cost about $8 or $9 for an assortment of about three dozen styles / kinds, and I still haven’t determined which is best for me.

    I bought them online – “earplug superstore” or something similar. (Not an ad or spam, just a customer!)

  7. Thanks for the great comments and information!

    Bibi, thanks for the link. I’ve never thought about researching the problem apart from migraine!

    Kate, an audiologist can do custom ear plugs. Some places online will send you a kit to make a mold and then custom make your ear plugs, but I’ve been told that they often need adjustment (much like a mouth guard). It’s helpful to be able to go into an office and have minute adjustments made.

    Katharine & Grant, glad you’ve found noise cancelling headphones helpful. I love them on airplanes. They make a noise themselves, which some people find bothersome.

    Janiene, great suggestion on Silly Putty. I had tubes in my ears as a kid and always had to use Silly Putty when I went swimming. Never thought to try it as ear plugs.

    Lizz, I’ve often thought about trying those sampler packs. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Kerrie

  8. Sleeping Soundly says:

    My favorite earplugs are Mack’s Ear Seals. …and I’ve tried a lot of different kinds. They are 2 pair in a pack for $6 ish at Walgreens. I saw drugstore.com has them for $3 pr. Hope this helps someone.

  9. Bureinato says:

    I don’t need earplugs often, but I buy the reusable types at the drum shop, and keep them in my purse. My most recent set are Vater.
    http://vater.com/products/product.cfm?M=287

    I use a white noise machine at night to sleep.

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