Are you looking for the best ways to take care of your ears to ensure your hearing health for years to come? Many people tend to forget about their ears – or worse, attempt to care for them the wrong way.
Unfortunately, failing to take proper care of your ears can lead to a number of problems including ear infections or permanently damaged hearing. Chronic ear infections may cause permanently damaged hearing and can later open the door for depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems.
We’re going to give you 5 easy ways to take care of your ears in hopes of helping you prevent these issues in years to come. Keep reading for more information!
Develop a Relationship With a Professional
One of the first and most important things you can do to take care of your ears is to develop a relationship with a healthcare practitioner. This may be your primary care physician, an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, & Throat doctor), or an audiologist.
If you have no trouble or very few problems with your ears, a regular checkup and cleaning by your primary care physician is a perfectly fine place to start. When you begin to have issues with your ears, you will likely need to see a specialist like an ENT or an audiologist.
An ENT doctor specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the ears, nose, and throat. They can often handle problems that have to do with balance or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) but usually focus on ear infections, nerve pain, and conditions affecting the inner and outer ear. These doctors can also perform hearing tests and procedures that are ear-related but will often refer patients with hearing damage to audiologists.
Audiologists focus on their patients’ hearing. They may or may not be a medical doctor but must have at least a master’s degree to practice. These practitioners only deal with ears and can help identify the causes of tinnitus, poor balance, and yes, hearing loss. Audiologists are trained to help people manage or overcome problems with or caused by hearing loss.
Whether you choose to see an ENT, audiologist, or your primary care physician, it’s important to ask for regular hearing tests and discuss any abnormal results with that healthcare provider. Additionally, you’ll want to be comfortable enough to raise questions or concerns about your ears and trust them with cleaning procedures.
Leave Cleaning to the Professionals
As mentioned, you’ll want to trust your ear health provider to clean your ears which means you should avoid doing so. You should never insert anything into your ears to remove earwax and ideally should only be using a damp cloth to clean the outside areas.
Earwax is also known as cerumen; it is a natural lubricant for your ears and can help protect them from dirt, debris, and insects. Cerumen is produced within the ear and as you chew, it works its way to the outer ear canal, eventually drying and falling out.
When you choose to insert tools or cotton swabs into your years, you can push the earwax back into the ear, possibly impacting it and requiring a professional’s expertise to remove it. If earwax becomes impacted, your ears may hurt or your hearing may become muffled. It is also possible to cause significant hearing damage or rupture your eardrum when you attempt to clean your ears yourself.
Reduce Exposure to Noise
To protect your hearing, you must take care to avoid constant exposure to loud noise. Ideally, you won’t be exposed to noises louder than 70-80 decibels (dB) for extended periods of time. To give you an idea of this noise level, office noise is ranked at 70 dB whereas a vacuum cleaner is usually around 75 dB.
Sounds that are higher than 85 dB have been proven to cause hearing damage over time. Noisy restaurants, lawnmowers, and even nearby traffic can all be 85+ dB.
With this said, you will want to stay away from loud areas, noises, and tools, or at least wear hearing protection if they’re unavoidable.
When listening to music with earbuds, avoid listening for long periods of time, especially if the volume is raised; headphones are often a safer choice instead of in-ear earbuds. As for your favorite TV show or movie, try to keep the volume set to a comfortable, audible level, just enough to hear the music and dialogue.
Rest Your Ears
If you work in a loud environment or are attending a noisy event, you’ll want to take a bit of time to rest your ears during and after. Typically, after about an hour of noise exposure, you’ll want to allow your ears about 10 minutes of resting.
If you spend an extended period of time around excessively loud noises, your ears may take a few days to fully recover.
After being exposed to loud noises, your ears may lose sensitivity, become painful, or you may hear ringing. Over time and with continued, unprotected noise exposure, you could experience hearing loss.
Keep Your Heart Healthy
Believe it or not, your heart is essential to keeping your ears healthy. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body, including your ears. When your ears don’t receive enough blood flow, damage to the tiny structures within them can cause hearing loss and other problems.
To keep your ears (and heart) healthy, you’ll want to make sure to maintain a proper diet and exercise. Exercise should include around 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity and should be done 5 days per week.
Keeping your ears and hearing intact should be yet another reason to quit smoking as smoking can impact heart health. However, cigarettes and the chemicals that you inhale can also cause damage to the areas of your ears that are responsible for converting noise vibrations into electrical signals for the brain to understand.
Speak to Our Hearing Specialists Today
Unfortunately, many people have lived their entire lives without realizing the best ways to take care of their ears and have ultimately caused hearing loss or impairment.
Many times, this damage isn’t reversible and can negatively affect your life, causing depression, anxiety, and miscommunications with friends or family.
At Southwestern Hearing Center, we may not be able to reverse hearing damage, but we can help you manage it with the use of hearing aids and listening devices. Our team of experts can help you schedule an audiometric evaluation (hearing test) to determine the best devices for your needs and then can help you find which hearing aids will be most beneficial.
Be sure to practice the tips listed above to take care of your ears; however, if you find you’re having trouble hearing your loved ones, contact us today for a consultation!