Winter weather frequently makes people more susceptible to colds and cases of flu, especially those with weakened immune systems. But, can the cold harm your hearing as well?
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Ears Are Vulnerable to Weather
Your ears might swiftly cool down since they don’t have any fatty tissue to act as insulation. Your blood vessels start to tighten at 59 degrees to save heat, and your ears start to feel cold.
Have you ever had an ear canal ache while it is chilly outside? This is so because the nerves in the ear canal are only covered by a thin layer of skin. In chilly temperatures, covering your ears avoids a decrease in blood flow.
In the fall, a lot of individuals develop allergies, most frequently hay fever. A full ear, transient hearing loss, or itching ears are just a few allergy symptoms. Typically, over-the-counter medications can be used to address these symptoms.
Vertigo or ringing in the ears is two indications of a more serious issue (tinnitus). Seasonal allergies might cause these symptoms in some persons. Some people may already have health issues that allergies make worse. Your audiologist can identify if the symptoms are brought on by allergies or something else.
Exostosis: an Ear Condition Linked to Colder Temperatures
Exostosis of the ear canal, often known as swimmers ear, is a disorder where abnormal bone growths develop inside the ear canal in response to cold weather or temperatures. This ailment, also known a swimmers ear, is often observed in surfers because their activity exposes them to both cold water in the ear canal and a breeze that quickly drops the temperature within the ear canal.
Even while the illness is sometimes referred to as “swimmers ear,” it affects a wide range of persons who engage in water activities that expose them to cold water, wind exposure, and lower temperatures. These activities include, among others, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, kitesurfing, and diving.
Reduced hearing or hearing loss (temporary or permanent), a rise in ear infections that may cause ear discomfort, and difficulty draining water from the ear, which may result in a “stuffed up” feeling are all signs of swimmers ear. Those in their mid-30s to late-40s are most likely to get swimmers ear, but anyone at any age with enough exposure might develop it.
Exostosis of the Ear Canal: Connection to Hearing Loss
According to research, cold temperatures may contribute to ear disorders such as tinnitus (ear ringing). Some of the symptoms of swimmers ear may start to appear due to the possibility of bone development or hardened earwax.
In extreme situations, cold weather can result in aberrant bone growths within the ear canal, which is the body’s effort to shield the ears from the cold.
Exostosis may narrow the ear canal, making it harder for the ear to adequately discharge wax, which leads to increased earwax buildup. This may be made worse by the cold since wax can solidify when exposed to low temperatures, increasing the risk of ear blockage.
Your ear canals are, therefore “programmed” to defend themselves from cold temperatures. Earwax can solidify, resulting in obstructions that could result in tinnitus or hearing loss.
Cold Weather: Hearing Aids Usage
Cold weather may have a greater impact if you use hearing aids to address your hearing loss. Hearing aid users are far more likely to develop hardened ear wax because the presence of a “foreign object” in the ear increases wax production. Infections, earaches, headaches, and tinnitus can result from wax buildup in the ear.
Use cotton swabs sparingly while trying to remove earwax. Despite being touted as a way to remove earwax, cotton swabs are ineffectual. Instead, get your earwax removed by a medical practitioner.
With hearing aids, it may seem challenging to keep your ears warm, especially since hats or earmuffs may cover the microphones. But there are many choices available, so be imaginative with your winter accessories!
Even a loose headscarf wrapped across your neck and ears could be helpful. Avoid leaving the house with damp hair since it might interfere with your hearing aids. Earmuffs with headphones are a great alternative since they let you listen to music while being toasty.
Keep Your Ears Protected At All Times
Football games, leaf blowers, and hunting are all noisy hobbies, and noise has an impact on ear health.
When engaging in these activities or any other activity where you could be subjected to noise levels above 80 decibels (dB), or roughly as loud as a dial tone or garbage disposal, it’s necessary to think about wearing ear protection.
While specialist earmuffs can protect your ears from the leaf blower or weed trimmer, foam earplugs can help you drown out the noise during a football game.