If you have a bed partner who snores, work at a noisy place, or attend a lot of rock concerts chance are you’re a frequent wearer of earplugs. While earplugs are effective at blocking or lowering the volume of potentially dangerously-loud sounds, they do carry some risks of their own.

Healthy ears drain earwax at an almost imperceptible level every day. While it may seem odd, earwax is important to our ears, blocking dust, dirt, and foreign debris from entering into the sensitive inner ear. Discharging old earwax helps keep the inside of your ears healthy. Prolonged use of earplugs can stop the natural discharge of earwax, causing it to build up.

Similarly, if earplugs are pressed in too deep they can cause the wax to become impacted, that is, harden and stick in the ear. Built-up earwax can block sound from entering your ear. You may experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or pain from impacted or a abundance of earwax.

If you do choose to wear earplugs regularly, especially for sleeping, be sure to choose a pair that is soft and very comfortable. You may consider trying out different materials. Foam earplugs are popular, but there are also over-the-ear models that don’t block as much sound but also won’t cause some of the issues listed above.

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