Ear infections and other ear issues are common in the winter. Our outer ears are comprised mainly of cartilage and do not have sufficient insulating fat, so it takes only a couple of minutes for them to become cold. Also, when it is cold outside, your body redirects blood to your vital organs to keep them warm. This can decrease the amount of blood circulation to your ears and make them cold.
The cold temperature can cause physical changes in the eardrum and external auditory canal, which can lead to pain, ringing in the ears, and even temporary hearing loss or problems. This is why it is necessary to protect your ears and hearing during winter.
Here are a few tips for ear protection in winter:
A snowblower can produce sounds from 80 to 106 decibels, which can damage your hearing and lead to noise-induced hearing loss. If you need to operate a snowblower, make sure you protect your ears with earmuffs. They can protect your ears from the cold temperatures and damaging noise levels.
Extended or repeated exposure to cold weather can damage your ears. If you plan to go out, make sure to wear cold-weather ear protection such as a winter hat, knitted headband, or fleece ear warmers. These can keep your ears warm and dry.
Wind and cold can induce your ears to produce excess wax. Improper cleaning can lead to earwax build-up deep in your ear canals. In many cases, cotton swabs are the culprit. If you must use swabs, use them only in the outer portion of the ear, rather than in the canal. You also can use a tissue or a soft, damp cloth. For removing wax deeper in the ear, see your doctor or audiologist.
Protect your ears and hearing against swimmer's ear, an infection in your ear canal caused by bacteria. This infection mostly occurs after participating in water-related activities or swimming. However, being exposed to cold weather also can contribute to this infection.
Very cold temperatures can shorten your hearing aids’ battery life and also allow moisture to build up in your hearing aids. You can keep your hearing aids warm and dry with earmuffs or a hat. You also can buy a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture, or hearing aid sweatbands to keep moisture from your hearing aids.
Because ear infections are relatively common in colder months, it is good idea to be vigilant for early signs and symptoms. If you notice ear pain, redness, discharge, or any change in existing hearing loss or ringing in the ears, don't put off a visit to your medical doctor or audiologist.
Schedule an appointment with your audiologist for routine screenings and evaluations. They will perform a hearing test to determine your hearing problem and recommend suitable hearing aid or treatment accordingly. Also, they can provide you with further information on protecting your ears from the cold temperature.
Contact us at 949-536-5180 to schedule an appointment and keep your ears protected this winter.