We are deep into winter and we need to make sure to take necessary precautions to protect our ears — inside and out — all season. We want to talk to you about how winter can affect your hearing and how you can deal with it.
Combating hardening ear wax
A reversible condition that is worsened by exposing the ears to icy weather is hardening ear wax that can eventually result in a blockage and impaired hearing. People with hearing loss who treat their condition with hearing aids are at a higher risk for developing hardened ear wax. The reason for this is because having a foreign object in the ear naturally results in a higher production of wax. This is how winter can affect your hearing.
When wax builds up to an extreme degree in the ear, it can result in temporary hearing loss or tinnitus. Symptoms include a feeling of pressure in the ears, headaches, earaches, or impaired hearing. Home treatments may work for less severe cases. However, it cannot be stressed enough that cotton swabs should never be used in the ear. Using them will only cause the wax to be lodged deeper in the ear.
Increased risk of ear infections
Cold weather enhances the risk of developing an ear infection because cold temperatures limit the circulation in the ear. That is why winter can affect your hearing. Swollen glands may also block the ears’ ability to drain fluid. When these irrigation systems are blocked, fluid can build and sit in the ear making a prime breeding ground for infection to set in.
Surfer’s Ear or Exostosis
While the effects are damaging to the auditory system, the initial intention of Surfer’s Ear is to protect the ear from cold wind and water. Also known as Exostosis, it’s certainly less common, but this condition can lead to irreversible hearing loss. Abnormal bone growths appear on existing bones in the ear, obstructing sound from completing its normal path to the auditory nerve or by resulting in extreme wax build up in the ear. In its progression, it can cause constant pain among sufferers and patients have also reported instances of tinnitus. Thus, that is why we reiterate that winter can affect your hearing.
The best way to prevent this condition is to protect your ears from over exposure to cold winds and water. If you do go surfing or swimming in warmer places on vacation, do invest in custom ear moulds or swim moulds. Always wear cold weather ear protection when spending time outdoors. Winter can affect your hearing if you do not take the necessary precautions. At Strauss Audiology, we can recommend and fit your ears for protection that will allow you to continue to enjoy both your current degree of hearing and your favourite cold weather outdoor activities for years to come.
Moisture concerns for hearing aids
For those whose concern also includes the effects of how the winter cold affects hearing aid wearers, do note the increased risk of moisture damage during this season. Hearing aids themselves should function in the same way that they would in milder temperatures. However, there are many cold weather activities that might result in more moisture than normal. Monitor your hearing aids condition after walking long distances outdoors which could transfer sweat onto your devices. Condensation because of temperature changes should also be considered and responded to as needed.
Visit Us at Strauss Audiology
If you have ear-related concerns this winter and you are concerned that winter can affect your hearing, visit us at Strauss Audiology. Our owner audiologist, Sybrand Strauss is here to support you and your hearing health.
About Strauss Audiology
Strauss Audiology is a professional audiology business in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, offering expert, effective hearing advice that is tailored to clients’ unique hearing needs. We conduct hearing evaluations, hearing tests and vertigo assessments, and provide a range of solutions to improve and protect clients’ hearing. This includes providing hearing aids to Cape Town clients. With 13 years of experience, and with the qualifications and certifications to deliver leading hearing care, you can trust us to take care of your hearing needs.
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