‘Tis the season for fuzzy sweaters, hot cocoa, thick blankets, and…hearing protection? Whether you live in a cold climate, or you’re visiting family or friends for the holidays, chances are you’ll be experiencing the bitter sting of cool winter air at some point this season. You may know that a drop in temperatures can cause your body to shiver and your teeth to chatter, but did you know that it can also cause changes in your ears that lead to ringing in the ears, pain, dizziness, and even hearing loss? Learn more about the potential dangers to your hearing and how you can protect your hearing in cold weather.
Exostosis (Surfer’s Ear)
This is caused when an abnormal bone growth forms in the ear canal in an attempt to protect the ear from repeated exposure to cold wind and water, hence the name: ‘Surfer’s Ear.’ This bone growth can cause both hearing loss and prevent the ear from producing the necessary ear wax it needs to protect you from infection. If you experience multiple ear infections this winter, you could be experiencing exostosis. You don’t have to be a surfer to get surfer’s ear, protect yourself by wearing cold weather ear protection such as a hat or earmuffs.
Cold air can cause earwax to harden and lead to blockages. Ringing in the ears, hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, and a ‘fullness’ feeling in your ears could all be signs of hardened earwax. If you wear hearing aids or earplugs, you may be more susceptible to blockages. If you think you may have excess earwax or a blockage, see your doctor to get your ears checked and cleaned. Never use cotton swabs to clean your ears, they could push ear wax further into your ear canal and could potentially cause damage.
Hearing aids can also be affected by colder temperatures. Problems such as reduced battery life and moisture damage can occur when the thermometer drops.
Protect your hearing aids this winter by:
- Wearing a moisture wicking hat or headband that will keep your head warm and free from sweat which may damage your hearing aids
- Use a hearing aid dehumidifier or drying case to draw out moisture and help protect the technology inside of your hearing aids
- Open your battery compartment to dry out the inside and prevent batteries from draining as quickly
If you suspect you may have hearing loss, schedule a free hearing screening today!