Because of noisy neighbors for the past few years I have worth gun-range style ear protection occasional to bed. Is it possible wearing these while sleeping on my side could cause a deformity in one or both ears? Lately I have noticed my right ear has had a round shape than my left and I am wondering if the headset could be responsible due to pinching the ears down while I rest on my side or maybe I just never noticed the unusual shape before. I am only wearing the plugs in the photo.
Could Ears Change Shape From Wearing Noise Protection? (photo)
Doctor Answers 4
Changing Shape of the Ear With Ear Plugs
An adult's ear is very difficult to mold non-surgically. The reason is that cartilage of the ear is typically very elastic and has a high degree of memory to it.
In infants, ears can be molded quite effectively as the ears are quite soft. However, past a few months in age, ear molding is no longer effective. Therefore, it is not likely that your ears were reshaped by the sound protection.
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Could Ears Change Shape From Wearing Noise Protection?
As my colleagues have noted, there is a small possibility that the ear protection has changed the shape of your ears. However, all of us have facial asymmetry to some degree and it is possible that you've picked up on a long-standing difference in the shape between your two ears. This would not be at all unusual. However, if this concerns you the best bet would be to avoid the ear plugs for a few months and then re-evaluate the shape of your ears. If the plugs have caused a small change in the shape of your ears this will likely resolve with time. I hope this information is helpful.
Stephen Weber MD, FACS
The external pinna (ear) is made mostly of skin and elastic cartilage. Therefore, the ear can change shape, but it also seems to have a memory. So, if you do not like the new shape, cease using external compression devises and the pinna will likely return to their previous shape. Try a different method of sound protection and work things out with those noisy neighbors!