It is not only important to care for your ears during the summer, but during the winter too: the cold, wind and damp weather make it a risky time of year for our hearing health. Temperatures have already fallen and the cold and flu season is starting again, which increases the risk of suffering ear infections such as otitis.
Otitis media: a leading cause of visits to the doctor in winter
As ENT specialist Dr. Juan Royo points out in an article published by GAES (a multinational company that is the largest hearing solutions provider in Spain), acute otitis media can affect one or both ears and is caused by the accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum, which produces inflammation in the middle ear. “This infection is very painful for the patient. However, if it is correctly treated, it does not cause permanent hearing problems,” he points out.
Children and the elderly are the most prone to this type of infection, as their immune systems are more sensitive to external aggressions. In the case of young children, serous otitis media or otitis media with effusion (also known as glue ear) is common, and is characterized by the accumulation of mucus in the ear canal. Dr. Royo warns that, “This does hold a risk of hearing loss, so it is vital to protect children from low temperatures in order to prevent colds.”
Tips for protecting your hearing health in winter:
- Protect yourself from the cold: prolonged exposure to cold temperatures lowers your defences, so avoid sudden changes of temperature and wrap up warm to avoid getting a cold.
- Keep your defences up: a balanced diet combined with a healthy lifestyle and exercise will help you to strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of suffering otitis or other issues with your ears and hearing health.
- Step up your hygiene: dry your ears carefully to avoid suffering infections such as otitis externa. Specialists recommend avoiding the use of cotton buds to clean your ears, and using salt water sprays instead.
- Protect your ears from water: if you use covered, heated pools during the winter, don’t forget to use ear plugs while you swim to avoid water entering the ear canal.
- Check your hearing aids: remember to keep them clean, put them away safely and avoid excessively damp conditions.
- Avoid smoking and drinking: tobacco and alcohol stimulate mucus production and lower the body’s defences, which has a direct correlation with the appearance of hearing issues.
- Do not self-medicate: taking unprescribed medicine can lead to undesired secondary effects. If you have any pain or discomfort in your ears, visit your doctor to make sure you are prescribed the correct treatment.
- Check your hearing: we recommend visiting an ENT specialist for a check-up before the winter starts to avoid any possible complications during the cold weather.
Follow these recommendations for caring for your hearing health and enjoy a worry-free Christmas and winter season 🙂 .
We would love to hear any more tips you may have for protecting your ears and hearing during the winter, so please leave us a comment below!