As the temperature drops and snow starts falling it is necessary to bundle up and stay warm. Coats, hats, scarves, boots, and gloves are a big part of the essential winter gear. As you make your way out into the cold air this season, don’t ignore your ears and your hearing health!
Cover Your Ears
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is essential to keep your ears covered in cold weather. Protect ears with ear muffs or hats long enough to cover your ears and insulate them from the harsh elements. This warm protection will also help to prevent moisture build-up within your ears.
Loud machinery can be detrimental to your hearing. If you reside in a specific region where there are significant amounts of snowfall, a snow blower can be your ears’ worst enemy. These machines have the potential to exceed 100 decibels making them loud enough to damage the hair cells in the inner ear irreversibly. There are a few simple solutions to combat this loud noise:
- Purchase a set of foam earplugs
- Earmuffs or noise-reducing headphones will keep your ears warm and protected from sound
- Leave your hearing aids inside to prevent exposure to moisture
The risk of an ear infection increases during the cold months for adults and children. Less blood circulation to the ear combined with an increased chance of trapped moisture can lead to a painful ear infection which left untreated may cause a temporary hearing loss. You can reduce your risk of an ear infection by keeping your ears warm and dry while enjoying outdoor activities. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise to improve circulation.
A 2014 Johns Hopkins study concluded that people with a hearing loss are three times more likely to have a dangerous fall than those with normal hearing. The causes might include cognitive overload, decreased environmental awareness, or a compromised vestibular system. The risk of a severe fall escalates when snow and ice are present. Try these preventative tips:
- Be alert for hidden ice patches, snow-covered objects, and slippery steps
- Keep your ears warm and dry when you are outside
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise to improve circulation
Extreme Cold Weather
Exposure to cold weather allows knobs of bony growth to appear on the bone surrounding the ear canal. The result is a blocking of the ear canal which increases the risk of infection due to the trapped fluid. This condition can be treated surgically but take precaution against the extreme cold by keeping your ears warm and dry.
Hearing Aids and Cold Weather
Bundling up in hats, scarves, or earmuffs protect your hearing and your hearing aids as well. Wind, rain, cold, and freezing temperatures shorten the life of hearing aid batteries and allow moisture to get inside of them. Use a dry-aid kit overnight to dry your batteries. If the weather in your region is particularly severe, you may want to try water-resistant hearing aids.
As winter weather descends upon us, it is vital to protect your hearing health from the harsh elements by keeping them warm and dry. Remember that noise, falls, and extreme cold can have a tremendous impact on your hearing health. If you are currently a hearing aid wearer, be sure to keep them dry to prevent battery drain and excessive moisture build-up. Now bundle up and go build that snowman!