How to protect ears from cold and avoid ear pain and otitis

Last update on Sep, 15, 2020

Tips to protect ears from cold weather

Following a few simple tips will prevent low temperatures and humidity from affecting your hearing health. Believe it or not, the season of the year influences your hearing well-being. Discomfort derived from colds, bronchitis, infections, otitis… they affect the elderly and children, preventing them from enjoying the sounds of these periods of the year. Therefore, we have prepared for you some brief guidelines that will help you prevent them:

  • Check your hearing: before the change of season it is preferable to have a test of your hearing health. In this way, if discomfort appears during the winter, you will be able to identify the origin of the problem more quickly.
  • Use earmuffs / hats and wide scarves to protect the entire auricle.
  • Take care of your defenses: a good diet, healthy lifestyle habits and some exercise will help you strengthen your immune system. Remember to always dry your ears carefully after taking a shower or bath and after swimming in the pool.
  • Intensify your hygiene: dry your ears if they are wet, do not use cotton buds if you have blockages and use sea salt diffusers instead.
  • Be careful if you are cold and you need to take a plane: compression and decompression on landing and departing can cause even very intense pain in the ear.
  • Avoid sudden changes in temperature and prolonged stay in the aisles of stores and supermarkets where refrigerated and frozen foods are exposed.
  • Ventilate the house well, especially the rooms where we spend more hours, such as the bedrooms or the living room.
  • Avoid loud noises: in this way you can prevent numerous problems and infections.
  • Pay attention to your hearing aids: remember to use your cleaning kits, store them correctly and avoid excess moisture in them.
  • The practice of swimming in heated and covered pools also advises to prevent the appearance of external otitis, just as annoying as that which appears with colds but which has a different treatment. To avoid it, the best advice is still to dry your ears well after bathing and use hearing protectors while we are in the water.
  • In case of discomfort, visit your ENT doctor immediately: speed is essential when taking care of your hearing, as is avoiding the consumption of non-prescription drugs.

Why do my ears hurt when its cold?

Typically, ear pain is caused by direct stimulation of the nociceptive pathways (pain) - which are present at the level of the auricle, the ear canal and the tympanic membrane - by the cold. The ears are indeed very complex structures. Simplifying, the moving parts of the middle ear transmit sound, the fluids that circulate inside help maintain balance and the Eustachian tube connects these spaces with the nose, mouth and throat. The cold can make these structures more sensitive, modifying the differential pressure, with consequent sore throat and ear pain, a sense of muffling and even dizziness.

How to protect your ears from annoying autumn colds

Although the temperature is still pleasant, autumn is usually a good season for colds. And with the catarrh come also the hearing problems, because the ear and the nose are linked by the Eustachian tubes. This explains that when we catch a cold, mucus passes through this tube and accumulates in the middle ear, which is the one located behind the eardrum, generating that feeling of plugging of the ears. This blockage can also cause an infection and turn into otitis. In this case, prevention is once again the best ally to avoid or minimize this common and annoying problem.

  1. Although the simple cold can be treated without antibiotics through nasal cleansing with serum, aspiration of mucus and the intake of antipyretics and analgesics, otitis itself may require specific treatment for 10 or 15 days. However, it is recommended to wait a day or two in case the inflammation subsides, and with it the pain.
  2. Taking into account that colds are the gateway to otitis media, prevention is once again the best ally. And not for being obvious, the best and most important advice is to bundle up well with jackets and, when the cold gets worse, with hats, scarves or earmuffs. 
  3. In the case of children, it is recommended to perform nasal washes to clear this pathway, which is responsible for heating and moistening the cold air in winter.
  4. Hygiene is also key to preventing ear problems. In this sense, the use of seawater diffusers is recommended. And, of course, the use of cotton buds or other objects must be ruled out.

Hearing aid maintenance in winter

Hearing aid users also have to take into account different tips to achieve good maintenance and cleaning of these devices with the arrival of the cold.

  1. Wrapping up with a scarf or earmuffs also helps when the weather is cold, as we prevent the hearing aid from being exposed to sudden changes in temperature.
  2. The increased mucus that occurs in winter also affects a greater presence of earwax. In these cases, it is recommended to use the wax protection wire present in Amplifon cleaning kits. This prevents excessive wax build-up from preventing the proper output of amplified sound from the hearing aids. It is important to use this wire carefully and without pressing inward.
  3. Avoid getting the hearing aids wet or being exposed to excess moisture. Therefore, they must be protected from the rain and stored in a case when not in use.

The maintenance and cleaning of hearing aids may vary depending on whether they are behind-the-ear, ITE or RIC.

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