Hot drinks and cold mornings means winter is definitely here. Inevitably, the colder weather brings with it some common companions; sniffles, coughs and colds. Maintaining your health in the winter is all about knowing how to take care of your wellbeing, which includes your hearing health.
So can cold weather affect your hearing? The short answer is “yes.” Colder temperatures can actually result in physical changes in your ear which can lead to dizziness, pain, ringing in your ears and in some cases, hearing loss. We’ve put together a guide on symptoms to look out for and how to protect your ears this winter season.
Different Ways Cold Weather Can Affect Your Hearing
We’re taking a closer look at how cold weather can affect your hearing. This will help you understand how to protect your hearing, and when to speak to your local hearing professional.
One of the more severe yet preventable conditions caused by repeated exposure of the ears to extreme cold weather is a condition known as exostosis. It’s commonly referred to as ‘surfers ear’.
Exostosis is your body’s reaction to very cold water entering the ear, be it snow, rain or whilst swimming or surfing in open water. The condition involves abnormal growth forming in the ear canal, often the growth of a bone on top of an existing bone. The bone that surrounds the ear canal thickens as your body tries to offer up a protective barrier to wind and cold water. The growth can interfere with your body’s ability to produce or get rid of earwax, and can impact hearing. Risk of infection therefore increases, and frequent ear infections are a common symptom of exostosis.
Although most common in surfers, exostosis can develop if you do not take appropriate measures to protect your ears in cold weather. In order to prevent this developing, protect your ears with ear-warmers, a long hat or a scarf. If you venture into the water, invest in surf plugs and a cap.
Infections and Seasonal Colds
Breathing in cold air can cause a narrowing of blood vessels, known as vasoconstriction. A lowered core body temperature reduces blood flow around the body, including to the ears. It also limits the immune system’s ability to do its job, which can lead to moisture and bacteria being trapped within the ear.
This increases the chances of colds and infections such as otitis media, which can lead to blocked eustachian tubes. This tube is vital; it helps protect your inner ear and eardrum from damage by regulating pressure and draining away excess fluid.
Blocked eustachian tubes can present with the following symptoms:
- Tinnitus symptoms
- Hearing Loss
Cold and damp weather can cause condensation inside hearing aids, leading to water damage. The cold can also slow your battery down by affecting the charge of the electrons (keep some spare batteries close during colder weather).
Unfortunately, staying wrapped up warm can cause sweating, which is also potentially damaging moisture. So bear this in mind when moving from outside to inside.
Here are some moisture protecting tips to preserve your device.
- Check the IP level of your device, consider purchasing a more water-resistant one.
- Wear a Hearing Aid sweatband whilst wrapped up.
- Remove the batteries overnight.
- Use a dry aid kit overnight.
Need Help? Contact Us Today!
There are still a few months of cold days ahead. Bundle up, and don’t forget your hat! If you’re concerned that the cold weather has affected your hearing, contact Audiology Professionals today. Our team would be happy to help. Call us today on (541) 228-9233. Alternatively, click here to contact us online.