Protecting your Ears This Fall & Winter
While the cold Virginia temps can be bothersome as it is, the effect that cold weather can cause your hearing health is even greater. If you’re wondering why and how, keep reading, but in essence, your immune system is the main culprit.
Immune systems are meant to protect you from illness, but during colder months, especially if you spend a lot of time outside, it’s possible for your ears to protect themselves and produce an abnormal bone growth in the ear canal called, “exostosis.” This condition is most commonly known as “surfer’s ear,” due to surfers being the most common to have this abnormal growth. The bone growth ends up creating a blockage in the ear canal, creating a rippel effect to impaired hearing.
The other way your ear trys to naturally protect itself is by creating ear wax. During the winter months, your immune system creates more ear wax than usual (again, it’s your body’s way of doing what it should). The buildup of this ear wax can also harden when exposed to really low temperatures. The hardening can then lead to ear canal blockage. Once that happens, your quality of hearing is at stake.
Those that wear hearing aids are also likely to have more ear wax than those without hearing aids. Why? Simply because there is a foreign object in the ear. It is critical for anyone during the winter months and/or those with hearing aids to care for their ears by having good hygiene and trying to keep their ears warm.
Below are some tips on caring for your ears in the winter:
Do NOT use cotton swabs, bobby pins or any other foreign objects to clean out ear wax. Doing so can cause more damage or push the earwax further into your ear canal.
Clean ears by putting a 50/50 solution of WHITE VINEGAR AND RUBBING ALCOHOL.
Once you put the drops in, let it set for about 10 minutes before gently rinsing them and wipe gently around the outside of your ear. This will break up any hardened wax in the canal. Over the counter ear wax solutions are also safe and similar instructions should accompany those solutions.
Do NOT use ear wax removal candles.
Layer up! Shield your ears from the extreme cold when you’re outside. Use ear muffs, scarves, and warm hats. Doing so is a great preventative.
Keep your hearing aids clean: Click here to read our HOW TO guide.
Virginia Hearing Group strives to educate our community on hearing health. If you have any questions about hearing loss or to schedule your hearing test with our group, please contact us or click here.