Earbuds Won’t Stay In? – Earbud Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome (ECDS)

Earbuds have revolutionized headphones in a positive way.  A vast majority of the population from children to the aged wear earbuds.  Earbuds make listening to music or audio books a pleasure if you can keep them in.  They keep us from annoying our companions with our choice of music or movies and allow us to zone out when we travel with a good read.  But what do you do if you can’t keep them in your ears?

There is a thing called Earbud Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome (ECDS), believe it or not.  I thought this was a joke until I did a little research.  Some people have too much cartilage or not enough and this can cause your earbuds to never fit right and be constantly falling out.

A recent article by Dick Wolfsie had me laughing.  He apparently can’t keep his earbuds in and his are falling out into his beverage or getting hooked on something when driving.

Finding a pair of earbuds that fit and are comfortable is not as easy as it sounds.


Earbud Fit

  • Ear size matters.  Women and children will generally need a smaller size.
  • Earbuds should fit snugly.
  • Earbuds should make a seal when inserted.  (If you don’t feel a seal it is suggested to pull on your ear canal).
  • Earbud discomfort can be caused by earwax pushed against your eardrum.  Do not clean your ears with a cotton swab which can push earwax against your eardrum.

Ears are shaped differently just like people.  There is no one size fits all.  That is why you may need to look for alternative fits when shopping for your earbuds, especially if standard earbuds fall out when you exercise or just won’t stay in due to ECDS.

Most earbuds now come with a choice of different sized ear tips.  So manufacturers are making an effort toward comfort and functionality.


Alternative Earbud Styles:

Over the Ear Hooks – Earbud grippers are rubber over the ear hooks that snap onto your earbuds.  There are even hooks that go all the way around your ear. These built in over the ear hooks can work great if you don’t wear glasses.

Foam cylinder extensions connect to your existing earbuds but increase their size, shape and adaptability.  In the same manner, there are silicone funnels that attach to your earbuds that are soft a supple helping to improve the fit.

Headband style earbuds go over your head and assist the earbuds to bend exactly into the ear.  These are small and not as obtrusive as headphones.  For those who really struggle keeping their earbuds in this is the way to go.


Prices are all over the place for earbuds.  You can spend anywhere from $10 to over $450.  The more expensive often have built in microphones for phone conversations.


Some of the Many Benefits of Earbuds

  • Lighter, smaller, better sound than many of the old over the ear headphones from not that long ago.
  • Great for wearing when traveling to create personal space and control over your environment.
  • Great for playing music when we work out to help us keep pumped up and motivated.
  • Great for blocking out irritating noise; whether that is an annoying sibling, a child, road noise or airplane hum.
  • Great for allowing you to listen to music or audio books and not disrupt others.
  • Great for watching movies with no sound heard by others.
  • Great for talking on your phone hands free, a multi-tasking hallelujah.

The benefits are endless and we all have our favorite reasons for wearing them.


I am OK with my husband’s idea of music but his idea of a good book is worlds away from anything I would enjoy.  Now we can both be on a lengthy car trip and accomplish reading while driving without affecting each other.   Earbuds our personal escape hatch.  Or if the kids have asked one too many times “Are we there yet?”….pop in the earbuds and you will never hear them.

Finding a great pair of earbuds may take work and research but for most of us the benefits outweigh the trouble.

Also, some people lack the inner cartilage which is the part of earlobe that surrounds the earbud. This can be called “Ear Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome.


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