It’s that time again! Amongst all the gift wrapping, frosty walks and family video calls, understandably health care is often the last thing on your mind. But in the colder seasons, there are a couple of easy steps you can take so you don’t have to give your hearing health a second thought this winter.
Keep your immune system strong
At this time of year, you are more susceptible to colds and flu. Among many less-than-welcome symptoms like blocked noses, chesty coughs and sore throats, a form of hearing loss can also sometimes be experienced when you’re in the middle of a nasty cold.
The sudden impairment to your hearing occurs as a result of a blocked or swollen Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube connects your middle ear to your throat and controls the pressure in your middle ear. If its function is affected, it can cause a build-up of fluid or congestion in your middle ear, which reduces your hearing.
This kind of hearing loss is normally temporary and once your immune system kicks in, your hearing will go back to normal. On rare occasions, the flu virus can damage the sensory hair cells in your inner ear which could have a more long-term effect. If you have had the flu and your hearing becomes impaired, we recommend booking an appointment with one of our audiologists for expert advice.
Try to keep your immune system at its best so you can fight off any viruses before you feel the symptoms of colds and flu. Getting enough sleep and keeping a balanced diet are the best ways to benefit your overall health, including your ears. Remember to keep your diet full of fruit and veg and stay hydrated. Check out our tips for healthy habits which benefit your ears and for more information about the effect your diet has on your hearing.
Get out and about
Tuning in to the world around you, going for walks and meeting up with friends and family (even if that’s on video chat) is always important but it’s particularly vital at this time of year.
We’ve all had years when the holiday stress gets to us: who is where for Christmas? Can you get that must-have gift for the little ones? The chaos of cooking the turkey and all the trimmings!
If you’re already struggling with your hearing, that stress can feel like a mountain. It’s important to reduce stress and stay connected with those around you in order to keep you at your best.
The more you practice hearing speech in noisy environments, by having conversations with loved ones, the more you tune in to, making it easier to maintain good hearing and mental health.
You’ll find your immune system is boosted which will reduce the risk of colds, flus and infections and you’ll have the energy to join in with the sounds this season.
Another effect of cold weather on your ears is the increased risk of ear infections. Low temperatures affect your circulation – you’ll notice how your hands and feet are normally coldest when you spend a lot of time outside! But it’s the same effect on your ears that can increase the chance of developing ear infections.
Decreased circulation in your ears can also cause dizziness and even tinnitus, but these can be prevented by keeping the circulation in your ears at its best, through keeping warm when you’re outside and wrapping up well! Ear muffs, hats, scarves, or a hood on your coat will all help keep you warm and your ears safe against the risk of infection.
Surfer’s Ear, also known as Exostosis
Despite what the name suggests, Surfer’s Ear does not only affect your hearing when you’re catching the waves down in Cornwall over the summer. It can be irritated by cold, wet weather too.
Exostosis is where bone grows abnormally in the ear due to repeated exposure to cold water. It affects many people who swim or surf a lot in the sea, hence the name. If the swellings narrow your ear canal too much, wax and water can get trapped in the ear, which can result in an infection and hearing loss.
While it’s common in surfers, exostosis can also develop in those who do not adequately protect their ears in cold, wet weather. And in the UK, we experience a lot of rain in the winter, so it’s worth remembering to stay warm when out and about.
So make sure to wrap up, don those fluffy earmuffs and visit your Hearing Care Partnership audiologist if you notice any changes in your hearing.
Take care of your hearing aids
Hearing aid technology has been adapted for almost every setting, but the harsh winter weather can take its toll on them too! Sudden changes in temperature as you go from the cosiness of your home to the chilly outside can cause condensation to form in your hearing aids. Moisture from this condensation can affect the mechanism inside. Make sure you clean them regularly, and store in a cool dry place when you are not wearing them.
It is also worth making sure you are well stocked in batteries for your hearing aids over the festive period. Extremely cold conditions can make the batteries in your hearing aids drain more quickly than usual. Make sure you don’t miss a thing, and keep your hearing aid batteries well stocked just in case!
You can order additional hearing aid batteries directly from us:
Book your FREE Full Hearing Assessment at your local opticians with The Hearing Care Partnership
Our hearing assessments won’t affect your Christmas budget – they’re free of charge and our audiologists will take the time to discuss the best options to care for your hearing health. If you have any concerns about your hearing or the health of your ears, you can book a FREE Full Hearing Assessment online or call our Dedicated Patient Support team on 0800 52 00 546.