Tips for keeping your ears healthy
Ear health often goes dismissed and unthought of – until you find yourself with intense pressure in the ear, swelling and other uncomfortable symptoms and sensations. This can happen to anyone and is usually caused by poor ear health care.
However, caring for your ear health and hearing can be simplified. Here are our tips for keeping your ears healthy and preventing hearing loss and infection.
Stop using cotton buds
When the inner ear itch occurs, the first thing many of us reach for is a cotton bud even when most of us understand the complications that using cotton buds can cause! Using a cotton bud to clean or itch the inside of the ear can cause damage to the delicate ear canal.
Ears have self-cleaning mechanisms, and using a cotton swab can disrupt the ear’s natural cleaning process and push earwax deep into the ear causing it to compact into a hard, uncomfortable mass. It’s not recommended for any item to be put in your ear because of this.
Not only can ear wax build up cause pressure and discomfort within the ear, it can also cause temporary hearing loss. If you think you’re experiencing a loss of hearing and have itchy ears or pressure within the inner ear, it’s likely time for an ear wax removal.
Next time you experience an ear itch that can’t be ignored, rather than reaching for a cotton bud, make an appointment with your local audiologist for ear wax removal. A much safer and more effective way of cleaning out your ears, removing wax build up and getting rid of that annoying itch.
Keep your ears dry
Bacteria thrive in warm, damp environments and your ears fit this exact description after baths, showers and swimming sessions. Keen swimmers will know the importance of drying their ears thoroughly when they get wet, as prolonged wetness can lead to an infection called “swimmer’s ear”, otherwise known as otitis externa.
Otitis externa occurs when water lingers in the outer ear canal for a long period of time, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, leading to painful earaches, swelling and a feeling of pressure within the ear.
After you’ve finished showering, bathing or swimming, always make sure to drain the ear of excess water and dry the outside of the ear thoroughly and gently. The most effective way to drain the ear of excess water is to tilt the head and pull the ear in different directions to encourage the water to leave the ear.
Alternatively, if you’re swimming frequently you may want to consider investing in some swimming plugs. We offer custom-made ear plugs that come in a variety of colours and are made out of a special buoyant material in case they are dropped in the water. Taking an impression of your unique ear shape creates swimming plugs that ensure your comfort and ear health.
Prevent and treat ear infections
Ear infections are uncomfortable and painful and can leave a lasting impact on your overall ear health and hearing ability if left untreated. Thankfully ear infections can be prevented, and should you ever have an ear infection, they can be easily treated.
The best way to prevent an ear infection is to keep your ears dry after being submerged in water, keep earphones and ear plugs clean and avoid putting foreign objects in the ear canal (such as cotton swabs or fingers).
Ear infection can be located in the ear canal (outer ear infection) or behind the eardrum (middle ear infection) and the type of ear infection will determine the method of treatment. In adults, if an ear infection doesn’t begin to resolve itself after 3 days, it’s recommended to see your GP.
The most common treatments for ear infections include:
- Antibiotic eardrops to treat bacterial infections
- Steroid eardrops to reduce swelling
- Antifungal eardrops which treat fungal ear infections
- Oral antibiotics for severe outer ear infections
Wear hearing protection
Hearing protection can protect the ear’s delicate cellular structures and help prevent hearing loss that isn’t related to age or health complications. Being exposed to high levels of noise for a prolonged period of time can cause irreversible damage to the ears, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Those who work in noisy environments, have a hobby that exposes them to high levels of noise or work as a musician or performer can all benefit from using hearing protection or ear plugs. Here at Harley Street Hearing, we produce custom-made ear plugs that provide effective noise isolation, hearing protection and comfort.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 aims to protect workers from excessive noise in the workplace by introducing requirements that enforce employers to take action to protect their employees’ hearing.
We are also the providers of the Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme, which in partnership with Help Musicians’ UK gives all professional musicians in the UK affordable access to specialist hearing assessments and custom-made hearing protection.
Our audiologists take a moulding of your unique ear structure to produce high-quality ear plugs that evenly reduce noise whilst maintaining its clarity and can help with hearing your instrument more clearly whilst performing with others. Learn more about our ear plugs for musicians here.
Have routine hearing tests and assessments
If you suspect you’re experiencing a loss of hearing, it’s important to get yourself booked into our hearing clinic for a hearing assessment or hearing test. Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors ranging from age, physical abnormalities within the ear, exposure to loud noises and ear infections.
Conductive hearing loss is often caused by an obstruction or a trauma of the outer or middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss will mean there’s a problem with the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or the auditory nerve which delivers sounds to the brain. And finally, mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Our expert audiologists can assess your hearing and determine the cause of your hearing loss and work with you to devise the next steps to managing your hearing loss. If your hearing loss is caused by a build-up of ear wax, an ear wax removal appointment is recommended. However, if you’ll more likely benefit from hearing aids we’ll talk you through your options.
Manage and reduce stress
This can surprise many, but stress can cause severe and irreversible damage to your ear’s health and hearing ability. Managing and reducing stress is certainly easier said than done, but has countless benefits for your overall physical and mental health.
A natural part of the body’s response to stress is to release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones temporarily affect your hearing ability which is completely normal and unharmful for short periods of time. However, over prolonged periods, elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline can damage the delicate cells inside the ear and cause permanent hearing loss.
The most effective way to manage stress will differ from person to person. Many people find introducing daily exercise, reducing caffeine intake and practising meditation an effective way to manage feelings of stress. If you’re struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety and stress, always talk to your local GP.
Concerns with your ear health?
If you have concerns about your ear health and hearing ability, contact our friendly team to book a hearing assessment, ear wax removal or hearing test. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, we can help you find the root cause and improve your range of hearing.
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