Protect and Preserve Your Hearing This Winter

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Isn’t it the most pristine sight to see stretches and stretches of white during winters? With the holiday season on, it is even more likely for us to indulge in the beauty. However, since winter can be harsh on your ears, it is important to know that those earmuffs and beanies are not just fashion accessories. Read on to know what can be done to protect your hearing in this weather.

Noise From The Machinery

Even though most of the loud equipment is tucked away during winter, there are few machines that pose a serious threat to your hearing capacity. Your snow blowers, snow plows, and snowmobiles certainly make your life easier but they come at a price. It is said that if a person is exposed to more than 85 decibels of sound for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to permanent loss of hearing. So, with more than 100 decibels of sound being produced, these machines are dangerous for the fine hair-like cells of our inner ear which are responsible for perceiving sound and transmitting it to the brain. Therefore, it is beneficial to wear ear plugs before putting on your ear muffs.

Icy Territory

Yes, you read it right! With large patches of snow all around us, it is possible to misstep or trip on these slippery surfaces. According to a 2014 John Hopkins study, people are three times more likely to have a serious fall if they are hearing impaired. Research says that it’s possible that due to the cognitive overload that such people face in processing sounds and speech in their surroundings, they are predisposed to such risks. However, irrespective of the cause for such mishaps, it is best to be extremely vigilant when you tread on icy terrains.

Infections of The Ear

Winter is that time of the year when the immunity is usually low, helping viruses and bacteria proliferate. As a result infection thrives. To add to this, there is lesser blood circulation to our ears and coupled with the locked up moisture, it creates the perfect breeding place for the notorious pathogens. Medically termed as Otitis Media, these infections are characterized by impounded debris and infected fluid that accumulates behind the eardrum, thereby blocking the eustachian tube. This leads to an increased ear pressure and may also result in transient loss of hearing.

As most of you must know, earaches are often a sign of infection. It is best to take prescribed medication and drink plenty of fluids. It should be noted that although antibiotics resolve most of the ear infection, the hearing loss may not be restored completely until all the fluid is cleared out. So, it is advisable to see your doctor if you suspect an ear infection.

You should make an effort to keep your ears warm and dry when you venture out of the house, and put in some hours of exercise so as to improve blood circulation, essentially because you need to combat the lower immune response of our body during winters.

Frigid Temperatures

Like other body parts, our ears also resort to some adaptive measures in extreme temperatures. Just as our hair stands up to provide warmth, the bones of our ear canals begin to thicken in response to cold and wet temperatures. In fact, they may even go on to form bony projections called Exostoses. Aptly called the “surfer’s ears” this condition is more commonly seen in avid skiers, deep water swimmers, and people who are in or around snow or cold water for most parts of the day. As much as these overgrowths protect one from cold, they also block out sound considerably, something that is certainly not desirable in people with existing hearing problems. If left unattended, these may lead to entrapment of debris and fluid and need to be surgically removed to alleviate the problem. Thankfully, with the proper use of beanies, earmuffs, and scarves, it is easily preventable.

Flying

As it is the holiday season, many of you must be looking forward to spending quality time at your favorite holiday destination. However, you must take care not to catch a cold before you’re supposed to take your flight. With blocked eustachian tubes, the air pressure balance between both ears is disturbed. During a flight, the change in atmospheric pressure may wreak havoc on your ears and may even result in rupture of ear drum or aggravation of infection. The best thing to do would be to avoid flying in such a condition. If, however, you are unable to postpone your plan or reschedule your flight, it would be wise to have some decongestant before you board your flight. If after your journey, you experience reduced hearing capacity that is not getting better with time, you should see your doctor immediately.

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