Your Hearing Health
Hearing health is important and is quite often overlooked. This is not because we don’t want to look after our health but more because we do not get told all the information required. We have taken some time to go through a few things that will help keep your ears healthy and what to do if something isn’t right. Let’s explore your hearing health.
Cleaning of Ears
A clean ear is a good start to a healthy ear; however, this does not mean the ear should not be completely clear of wax. Your ear is designed to have some wax in it, as wax is antibacterial and will help stop infections. The wax also stops dust, insects and other possibly harmful things from entering your ear.
When keeping your ears clean, you should look to clean the outer portion of your ears. You should never stick a cotton swab/bud in your ear to remove earwax. If you are trying to use these you are not really removing the wax. All it will do is push and compact the wax closer to your eardrum and this should not be very close to your eardrum at all. If this is something you do, it can ultimately lead to a blockage which is one of the most common reasons of hearing loss.
If you feel you have a build-up of wax in your ear, you can try to soften wax by using standard olive oil or a mineral oil spray. You should only allow a few drops of oil in your ear (one – two). If you use too much it can cause the wax to fall to the base of the eardrum which is not good. If you feel these methods are not working you should seek help from an ear care professional see Wax Removal Page. These are all important steps to maintain your hearing health.
Taking Care of the Outer Ear
To clean your outer ear, simply use warm water, a gentle soap, and a washcloth. You can also use a cotton bud to run in the crevasses of your upper ear (see image), just make sure you do not stick them in your ear canal as mentioned above. Lastly don’t forget to use the washcloth to wipe above and behind your ears.
Hearing Health and Infections
You can get infections in your ear canal this is called otitis media externa. Moisture in the ear canal can often allow bacteria to grow in there. The best way to protect against these infections is by keeping your ears dry. After showering or swimming, use a towel to dry your ears remembering not to go to put into the ear canal. To find out more about infections and how this can affect your hearing health we have added an infections page.
Why you should keep the noise down
Loud noises can damage the tiny hair cells in your inner ear, in turn, causing hearing loss. This is called noise-induced hearing loss (NHL) and can happen in an instant; or it can occur over time depending on the sound type or level.
If you are exposed consistently loud noise due to work or by your own choice your hearing health could be at risk! If you are around loud noise then you should wear some type hearing protection. There is a lot to choose from and can vary from earplugs, over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones, or professionally moulded ear defenders. Remember that the longer you spend around loud noises, the more likely they are to damage your hearing. Also being around a very loud burst at a high volume can be even more dangerous to hearing. This is why you should always use hearing protection whether you are at a loud concert, at work within a loud environment or at a shooting range.
Listening to your music
Listening too loudly on a personal music device can also cause hearing loss. Whether you are using ear buds or over the ear headphones. With technology advances most music devices now warn you if you are going to potentially damage your hearing. You should pay full attention to these as they will help in the long term. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends limiting the time you use headphones and bud to an hour a day and to also limit the volume to around 60% max. Using noise cancelling headphone will help resit the urge to turning up the volume. So maybe its time to start looking into some new headphones.
Sometimes there are some loud environments where having hearing protection is just not practical. These could be such places like a loud bar or night club maybe even a big sporting event. If this is something you do regularly, you should try to rest your ears as much as you can. After it can take your ears up to 24 hours to recover normally.
Other Hearing Health matters to consider
Even if you are taking very good care of you hearing and you are not around lots of noise; you could still be putting your ears at risk. This is because there are certain medicines that have been linked to hearing loss. The loss can be progressive or sudden and it also can also give you a ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
It is important to take medicines exactly as they are prescribed. You must make sure you have listened carefully to the doctor’s advice. Even for over the counter medicines make sure you read the side effects and if you are not sure seek advice from you pharmacist. Some tablets as common as aspirin or ibuprofen can contribute to hearing loss.
When to see an Audiologist about your Hearing Health
As we get older our hearing systems unfortunately will not be as good as it once was. It is recommended that once you reach the 50 mark that you have regular hearing tests, at least 1 every 2-4 years. As you get to 60 this should then drop to once every 1-2 years. However if you feel your hearing has started getting worse then you should seek some advice from an audiologist.
When to see a Doctor
If you suspect you have hearing loss, you should see your doctor or audiologist depending on the private vs NHS. If you find however your hearing as dropped overnight and you are worried, you should go straight to the doctors. Again if you feel your hearing has deteriorated rapidly within the last 6 months you should consult your doctor.
Things you can ask a doctor
Am I taking any medications that could harm my hearing? They will be able to provide any detail around the effects on your hearing.
Sometimes I have ringing in my ears. Is this normal? This will unfortunately almost result in a doctor saying there is nothing they can do about this. This is not always true have a look at the Tinnitus page.
Hearing loss runs in my family. Should I be worried? The doctor will be able to go into more detail. However, if there is hearing loss in the family there will be a greater chance you will eventually get a hearing loss. This is okay though, as we can treat this with hearing aids.
What has caused my hearing loss? This is a very broad question to answer. Depending on what has happened with your hearing will depend on how this question will be answered.
This is just a short list. So we will be adding more as time continues and keeping you up to date as much as we can. Be sure to check back if you feel there is anything more you want to find out or learn.