Audiologist-Approved Tips for Winter Ear Care

Winter is a tough time for our bodies – the cold dries out our skin, viruses are out in their numbers, and the cold can even make our hearts work harder. While some of these effects are obvious and, therefore, second nature to remedy, we shouldn’t neglect the smaller or more subtle signs. Specifically, as any good audiologist or hearing aid specialist will remind you, it’s essential to take extra care of your ears during the colder months.

The cold can cultivate just the right conditions for an ear infection. Also, less blood gets circulated to your ears as your body conserves heat around vital organs. From blocked noses and stuffy sinuses to lots of opportunities for being exposed to loud noises, your ears can be vulnerable during winter. Fortunately, protecting your ears from the cold can be very simple – just follow these easy tips.

Keep Your Ears Warm & Dry

It might seem self-evident, but keeping your ears warm during the frosty months is a great first step. Keeping your ears warm can actually help the rest of your body feel warmer. With all the hustle and bustle of the festive season, not to mention our everyday lives, it’s easy to forget ear protection after you’ve thrown on your coat. Keeping a beanie tucked in your jacket pocket is a good way to keep things toasty even when you’re in a rush. Whether you prefer a hat or earmuffs, a little warmth goes a long way – and you’ll look extra stylish, too. 

You might have heard about people putting cotton wool in their ears to protect them from drying out in the wind. Don’t do this! The cotton wool will actually dry out your ears more and may irritate your ear canal. Take it from the hearing specialists: stick to external protection, like a hat, earmuffs, or even a scarf.

Keeping your ears dry is always a good idea, but it’s especially important in winter. Water in the ear canal irritates the area and opens you up to an increased risk of infection. Wearing earplugs when you swim is a great way to prevent water from getting into your ears. After swimming, using a sauna, or showering, dry your ears as well as you can. Use a soft towel and gentle motions, staying clear of the ear canal. Cotton swabs should not be used to clean your ears.

If you feel like there is water inside your ears, lie with your ear on a towel and let gravity do the work for you. If that doesn’t work, and the water has been there for more than a day, call your doctor, and they’ll advise you on what to do.

Caring for Your Ears From the Inside Out

If you take care of your body, then your body will take care of you. Eating well and staying hydrated not only contributes to your overall well-being but also to your ear health. Keeping up a diet of fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins alongside your festive season indulgences will help keep you on the right track throughout winter. 

Getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet is important for hearing health. Vitamins B9 (folic acid) and B12 can help with balance and are particularly recommended for those with tinnitus. Magnesium and potassium have both been shown to be vital for protecting your inner ear, and zinc has a variety of ear benefits in addition to boosting your immune system. You can ask your hearing specialist for a complete list – and which foods should be avoided.

If you have allergies or are susceptible to winter colds, take care of them sooner rather than later. When pressure builds in the upper respiratory system, it affects the ears, too. Irritation and swelling can cause fluid build-up where it isn’t needed, such as in the eardrum. This is usually very painful and, if left untreated, can cause permanent hearing loss.

Cultivate Healthy Habits for Happy Hearing

Smoking isn’t a healthy habit, to begin with, and your ears would certainly agree. You may be more likely to get an ear infection if you are often around someone who smokes or if you are a smoker yourself. Smokers are also more likely to experience hearing loss. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the sensitive hair cells in the cochlea and interfere with the neurotransmitters relaying information through the auditory nerve. Regular consumption of nicotine has been connected with tinnitus, dizziness, and vertigo. 

Alcohol always flows freely during the festive season, but there are many good reasons not to over-indulge this winter. Alcohol might feel like it warms you up, but it actually makes your body colder. Drinking too much can also damage your cochlear hair cells and shrink your auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sounds. While there’s nothing wrong with raising a glass to the new year, leave it at one for the sake of your ears.

While only some people can wiggle their ears, everyone can benefit from some exercise. Not only does getting active help you keep warm, but it also stimulates blood flow, improving circulation to all parts of your body – including your ears. Some research has even shown that regular exercise can stave off age-related hearing loss.

Protect Your Hearing Wherever You Go

Like any holiday period, the festive season break gives us the opportunity to get out and experience life. Certain activities are known for being very loud – stadium sports events, concerts, and even parties. Take care to protect your ears with noise-canceling headphones or custom-fitted earplugs if you’re going to be exposed to high volumes for a long period of time.

It should go without saying, but if winter means getting out the snow blower, it should also mean putting on some ear protection. If your winter activities involve a lot of noise, whether it’s clearing your driveway or taking a ride on a snowmobile, make sure you cover your ears. Even a short exposure to very loud noises can damage your hearing, so rather be safe than sorry. 

Your hearing aid might need a little extra care during the winter months. The extreme cold can make batteries drain faster, so always make sure they are fully charged. Keep them in a warm, dry place when you’re not wearing them. If condensation forms due to the changes in temperature, it can damage the sensitive internal components. Visit your hearing aid specialist to ensure your hearing aids are working at their best.

Make an Appointment With
Your Hearing Aid Specialist

If you’re looking for just the right specialist for hearing, you’re in the right place. HearWell Services provides a range of hearing services, including comprehensive testing and assessments. We’re here to help you preserve your hearing for the long haul and offer a range of top-quality, affordable hearing aids and hearing aid accessories.

We take pride in providing a high standard of care, from first consultation to fitting to annual checkups and servicing. Our qualified hearing aid specialists will help you keep your ears safe throughout the winter months – and all year round. Book your next appointment with us today.