The Complete Guide to Ear Care

Whether you love to play an instrument, soak up the atmosphere at the big game or simply like to relax in front of the TV, you can’t enjoy it in the same way without your hearing. That’s why we’ve put together this guide looking at how you can best take care of your precious lug ‘oles.

Avoid day to day noise

Unless you sit alone in a darkened room with a pillow over your head, the chances are you’ll be exposed to at least one kind of noise during the day.  And you’ll be surprised what sort of noise constitutes damaging: even particularly busy traffic can wear down your hearing!  So it’s important to:

  • Wear protection when doing everyday tasks such as DIY, mowing the lawn or blowing leaves out of the way.
  • Avoid playing music too loud.  The best way to deal with this is to set the volume low and let your ears get used to it (which they will) and then slowly add a little bit more volume if you need it.  If you set it loud right off the bat, your ears will still get used to it, but your ears will still be getting a kicking.
  • If you’re heading somewhere really loud, like a nightclub, concert or motorsport event, wear earplugs.  Don’t worry – you can pick up low profile or clear ones  – if this concerns you.
  • Remember that most headphones – even if the music is at a reasonable volume – don’t operate as ear-plugs, and won’t protect you against other background rackets. Stay away from other external noises, even if you’ve got your music playing. One exception to this rule however is the excellent Plugfones (link: http://www.allearplugs.com/music-musicians/musicians-ear-plugs/plugfones-yellow.aspx), which has a Noise Reducing Rating (NRR) 25dB earplug bud, with an internal speaker which delivers music direct to your inner ear meaning you can keep the volume low!

Keeping things safe

Though excess noise is the most common cause of ear damage, it’s also possible for more general accidents to negatively impact your hearing.  You should:

  • Always wear a helmet if you’re biking, skiing, roller blading, skateboarding or doing anything that could lead to you banging your head if you come off!
  • If you’re planning any kind of underwater activity, it’s a good idea to practice proper underwater breathing techniques to reduce the impact of potentially damaging changes in pressure.
  • If you’re on a plane, try to swallow and yawn frequently during landing and take-off to try and equalise any pressure in your ears.  If you’re suffering from a cold or sinus infection, take a decongestant a few hours before, or use a decongestant spray.

Clean it right up

Do you clean your ears regularly? No, honestly: do you? Well, if not, now’s the time to start. Just as it does with any type of hygiene, not having a routine can actually put your ears at risk.

  • Clean your ears. Carefully.  Let’s get one thing straight: we don’t mean ram a q-tip in until only the end is visible and start moving it around like you’re mixing concrete. Simply wipe the outer ear with a washcloth or tissue.
  • Earwax is actually your ear’s method for self-cleaning, so if you’ve got a build-up, go and see your doctor and get it removed properly. Always go and see your physician if you have any itching or pain in your ears.  Again, put that Q-Tip down!  Products like the Mack's Wax Away - Ear Wax Removal Aid (link: http://www.allearplugs.com/earplug-suppliers/macks-earplugs/macks-wax-away-ear-wax-removal-aid.aspx) are a far safer way of reducing build-up.
  • On some occasions, you may suffer from hearing loss as a result of medication you’re taking.  If that’s the case, consult your doctor.

General Care

In addition to the above points, it’s important to indulge in a little bit of general ear care. Some good ways to keep everything ticking over nicely include:

  • Wearing sunscreen on your ears whenever you’re outside in sunny weather.
  • Consulting a doctor immediately if you notice any unusual lumps or bumps anywhere near your ears or you experience sharp or chronic pain or any unusual discharge.
  • Having yearly check-ups, just in case.

The warning signs

Finally, it’s absolutely essential to try and ensure that you recognise any warning signs of hearing loss when they occur. The earlier you recognise them, the quicker you can find treatment.  Some of the major warning signs include:

  • Difficulty hearing conversations, especially in the presence of background noise
  • Frequently asking others to repeat what they’ve said
  • Misunderstanding what other people say regularly
  • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
  • Requiring the TV or radio to be louder than other people in the room prefer or find comfortable.
  • Difficulty hearing environmental sounds, such as birds chirping
  • Needing to lip read to try and understand what people have said
  • Noise with your ears or head that has no link to an external sound source

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