Tips to help protect your hearing this winter…
Winter is setting in and with it comes risk to your hearing. Here are some tips to protect your hearing and hearing aids this winter.
Winter brings a higher risk of ear infection, in both children and adults, for several reasons. One of these reasons is that less blood is circulated in the cold; add that to greater risk of irritation, trapped moisture or bacteria and you have a recipe for a painful condition known as otitis media.
Otitis media, or ear infections, are inflammations of the middle ear which result from a cold, an infection or presence of a virus or bacteria. Infected material builds up behind the eardrum and blocks the Eustachian tube. Antibiotics can treat most ear infections but until the fluid is cleared, untreated temporary hearing loss can result. Be sure to treat colds and flu immediately with rest, medication and plenty of fluids, and if you suspect an ear infection see a doctor immediately to prevent hearing damage.
You can reduce your risk of ear infections by keeping your ears warm and dry when you are outside in winter weather. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising to improve blood circulation can also be helpful, especially in the winter months when resistance to infection is lower.
Slips Trips & Falls
Those with hearing loss are three times as likely to suffer a dangerous fall as those without hearing loss, according to a 2014 Johns Hopkins study. While researchers speculate that cognitive overload, decreased environmental awareness or compromised vestibular system could be the reason, one thing is certain: the risk of falling increases even more in the winter time with the onset of rain, snow and ice. If your vestibular or balance system is compromised due to hearing loss, you need to be especially alert for hidden wet surfaces, slippery objects and slick steps which could lead to a fall.
Protecting your Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are especially susceptible to harsh winter elements, so wearing hats, scarves or earmuffs can not only protect your hearing, but your hearing aids as well. Wind, rain, cold and freezing temperatures can shorten battery life as well as allowing moisture to build up in your hearing aids.
Keeping hearing aids warm and dry with a hat or earmuffs is a good idea, but keep in mind that if you wear those you might sweat, which will also cause moisture to build up in the hearing aids.
An effective solution is to use a dry-aid kit overnight after removing batteries. You can also buy hearing aid sweatbands called Ear Gear, which are spandex covers designed to keep moisture from hearing aids. And if the place you live has lots of rain in winter, water-resistant hearing aids might be the answer.