The cold and snow have arrived. As you take part in your favorite winter-weather traditions, we encourage you to take a moment to care for your hearing health. These simple ways to protect your hearing this winter are a great place to start:
- Wear cold-weather ear protection
- Maximize ear protection if snow blowing
- Watch out for moisture
- Clean your ears with care
- Be mindful of ear infections
- Protect your hearing aids from the cold
Learn more about these tips on how to protect your hearing this winter below.
Wear cold-weather ear protection
When winter temperatures dip, keep your ears warm and dry with a knitted headband, winter hat, fleece ear warmers, or other snug gear. Being exposed to the cold weather for extended periods can cause damage to your hearing, so be sure to bundle up as you head outdoors this season.
Maximize ear protection if snow blowing
Here in Maine, snow removal is a must. If you plan to operate a snowblower, be mindful of the noise. The average snowblower can register up to 106 dB, well above safe noise levels around 80dB. If you’re planning to operate a snowblower, make sure to do so over short bursts of time and wear proper hearing protection. Look for earplugs or earmuffs with the highest noise reduction rating (NRR) you can find – up to 33 for earplugs and 31 for earmuffs.
Watch out for moisture
Winter is often a wet, cold season, making excessive moisture a concern for your ears. Protect your hearing against conditions such as “swimmer’s ear,” an infection in your ear canal often caused by bacteria. While this infection is most common after swimming or participating in water-related activities, it can also occur on dry land from cold-weather exposure.
Clean your ears with care
Another way to protect your hearing this winter is to clean your ears safely. Improper cleaning can push earwax and other buildup deeper into your ear canal, damaging the eardrum or triggering infection. Instead of cotton swabs, apply a warm, soft cloth after showering. If excessive earwax is causing discomfort or affecting your hearing, schedule an appointment at the PCFC–we clean ears!
Be mindful of ear infections
Ear infections are another common concern during the winter months. Because blood circulates less frequently in the cold, trapped moisture or bacteria can lead to an ear infection. Antibiotics can treat most ear infections, while rest, medication, and plenty of fluids can help heal a cold or flu. Make an appointment at the PCFC if you think you have an ear infection.
Protect your hearing aids from the cold
Do you have a hearing aid? Hearing aids and hearing aid batteries can stop working in frigid temperatures, so be sure not to leave them in a cold car or near a window. You’ll also want to steer moisture away from your hearing aids. A dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture overnight.