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I use the Etymotic ER 25 custom musician earplugs (*) when DJing or attending events with loud music. The Etymotic website vaguely says:

Musicians Earplugs are designed to last for many years. Etymotic Research recommends that earmolds for Musicians Earplugs be made only out of silicone (not vinyl) because it does not shrink or change shape over time. Persons who lose a large amount of weight may find their earmolds no longer seal properly. In this case the earmolds need to be remade for a better fit.

My earplugs are made of silicone. My weight is stable but I have been told by a reliable source that I should change them every five years due to the evolving shape of one's ears over the years. How accurate is this rule of thumb?

(*) By musician's earplugs I mean flat-response attenuators (= frequency response that follows the shape of the natural frequency response of the open ear, but at a reduced level.)

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your reliable source is correct. The earplugs may not change shape over time, but your ears do. I don't think you need a rule of thumb -- you'll know when your earplugs aren't fitting well anymore, as they'll become either uncomfortable or ineffective. You should be able to feel whether they fit snugly in your ears. If they no longer fit comfortably, it's time for a new pair.

I think I got at least 10 years out of my last pair. Your mileage may vary.

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