A Cause of Reversible Deafness: Silicone Earplugs

M Shakeel (Lead / Corresponding author), S Keh, S Maini, Stephen Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction: Because of the tortuous nature of the EAC, a broken earplug may become impacted and result in reduced hearing along with other symptoms. Our aim is to raise awareness that impacted earplugs can be a cause of both acute and chronic hearing loss.

Materials and Methods: We have managed 15 patients presenting with hearing loss secondary to an impacted earplug in the EAC over a 3 years period. Prospectively, the information was collected on demographics, symptomatology, indication for earplug use, laterality of the affected ear, examination findings, earplug type, prior attempts to remove the earplug and the outcome of our interventions. Thirteen patients became aware of the hearing loss soon after the earplug impaction. The earplug was removed by an experienced otolaryngologist and the patients reported resolution of their symptoms. Two of the patients complaining about ongoing hearing loss affecting one ear were unaware of the fact that they had part of the earplug impacted in the external canal.

Discussion: Once a patient is found to have an earplug impaction, an experienced otolaryngologist should attempt its removal as their removal can be difficult without adequate equipment which includes microscope and fine ear instruments. The dough like consistency of these plugs means that they are difficult to remove with forceps or suction.

Conclusion: Broken earplugs forgotten in the EAC can lead to chronic hearing loss and may pose a diagnostic challenge. If suspected to have an impacted earplug referral to an otolaryngologist would be appropriate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1035
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalAustin J Otolaryngology
Volume2
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2015

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