Cold and flu season seems to hit every year at the start of school and hang on through January. The colder months bring their own special health challenges, and this affects hearing as well. Protect your ears through the winter months and take special note of these particular hearing challenges.
It’s no secret that this is the time of year when viral and bacterial infections are on the rise. The cold months are a good time to stay inside where it’s warm, but that extra time indoors means more time exposed to germs, which can threaten your health and your hearing. Ear infections are particularly common during winter months. In the cold, less blood circulates, cold air irritates the ear canal, and cold and flu germs can build up and block the eustachian tube. You may be tempted to fight through a cold or flu, but rest, medication, and fluids are the keys to swift recovery. If you suspect you have an ear infection, seek treatment right away.
Hearing Aids and the Cold
Hearing aids can be particularly susceptible to problems due to exposure to the winter air and elements. You may experience shorter battery life because of the conditions. Also, be aware of the potential for moisture to build up inside your hearing aids. Scarves and earmuffs protect your hearing aids as well as your ears. Keeping those ears warm, however, could cause a problem with sweat. Protect your hearing aids with a dry-aid kit overnight or consider water-resistant hearing aids as a long-term solution.
During very cold weather, your body may try to protect the ear by growing its own protection. This thickening of the bone surrounding the ear canal is called exostosis. When the ear can no longer properly expel earwax, the potential for ear infections is high. A common symptom of exostosis is multiple ear infections. This can require surgery to resolve, and if left untreated, it could result in hearing loss. Keeping ears warm and protected from the cold is the best prevention this winter.