Winter is on the way, and with it the onset of colds, flu and plenty of other unpleasant bugs that can knock you off your feet for days at a time. There are other, less well-known health problems that can be caused by the cold weather though, and one of these is hearing damage. Hearing loss is often a natural consequence of ageing, but why help it along?
If you want to be able to enjoy the chatter and music at Christmas and New Year parties then take care to protect your ears, and your hearing aid if you wear one, by taking on board the following advice…
Keep your hearing aid dry
Hearing aids can be damaged by moisture build-up, which is often caused when wearers move from very cold temperatures into very warm ones. You can buy special drying kits, or airballs, to use on your device, from hearing experts such as HH. Don’t use a hair dryer though, they’re not suitable. Wiping the battery compartment of the hearing aid down with a dry, clean cloth can get rid of any harmful condensation.
Also, remember that after showering, your ear canals will take longer to dry than in the summer months, so leave it a bit longer before putting your hearing aids back in. Don’t leave hearing aids anywhere they could be affected by wintery draughts such as by open windows, and take a spare pair of batteries out with you in case you have any problems, but keep them under your coat so they stay at the right temperature.
There are now leaves scattered all over the ground, and if you want to keep your garden tidy you may be using a leaf blower to move them into piles. The noise levels of some equipment can exceed what’s safe, so wear a set of ear protectors. The same is true of course if you’re near any loud machinery, or other environments that are very noisy, for a prolonged period of time.
The colder the weather the harder it is for blood to circulate in your ears, making infections more likely. This is especially the case if you’re suffering from, or just over, a cold. So don’t neglect your ears when wrapping up warm. A set of earmuffs, a woolly hat, or just an insulated hood on your coat, can all help keep infection at bay.
Watch your step
Something many people perhaps don’t realise is that hearing problems can upset your sense of balance, making it easier to slip and fall. Combined with icy pavements or wet leaves, this is a recipe for disaster, so if you’re feeling a bit wobbly on your feet try to minimise the amount you need to go outside until you feel better, and walk slowly and carefully when you do.
Changes in air pressure when you take a flight can cause discomfort and pain in your ears, and this is exacerbated if you have sinus trouble. Sucking on a boiled sweet or chewing a piece of gum during takeoff and landing helps, so do try to stay awake at the start and end of a flight. If you know you have a flight soon, perhaps you’re going away for Christmas, take steps to avoid colds in the days beforehand.
Some foods are proven to help counter the causes and effects of hearing loss. These include oily fish such as tuna and salmon, fresh fruit and vegetables such as bananas, oranges, spinach, broccoli, beans and asparagus. And at Christmas, remember that certain foods likely to be passed around can help with your hearing, including dark chocolate (zinc) and nuts (folic acid).
Thanks to Hidden Hearing for supplying this post. For details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page. Image of ear: Shutterstock.