Winter Maintenance…For Your Ears

Older woman playing in the snow while a couple look on in the background

Cold-weather tips for protecting your ears and preserving your hearing

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but like it or not, winter is here to stay for the next couple of months.

Since the chilly weather ushers in cold and flu season, by now you’re probably heard lots of advice about how to dodge all the germs floating around – even if perhaps you weren’t completely successful at avoiding them during the recent holiday season.

But you may not be hearing much about how to protect your ears at this time of year, or why doing so is as important as ever during the wintertime.

Because it is.

Fortunately, looking after your ears during the cold weather couldn’t be simpler. Check out these five tips for keeping your ears happy and healthy all winter long.

  1. Keep them cozy. Your ears are mostly made of cartilage, which is why they get cold so quickly when they’re exposed to winter weather. In fact, the blood vessels in the ears start to constrict at 15C, making your ears more susceptible to the effects of cold weather including pain, ringing, and even temporary hearing loss.1 Wear a hat, headband, or fuzzy earmuffs if you’re going to be out in the wind and snow.
  1. Stay healthy. Even a simple bout of the common cold can result in an ear infection if the ear’s eustachian tube gets blocked by fluid or inflammation. Getting sick during flu season isn’t always preventable, but do your best to avoid it by:
    • getting lots of rest,
    • washing your hands regularly,
    • quitting smoking,
    • cutting back on alcohol consumption,
    • getting regular exercise,
    • eating a healthy diet, and
    • reducing your stress levels as much as possible to help boost your immune system.

If, despite your best efforts, you do end up with an ear infection, see your doctor right away to start treatment. Signs of an ear infection may include pain, redness, discharge, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears.

  1. Protect your hearing. Remember, ear-damaging noises are around all year long. Make sure to wear hearing protection if you’re going to be in a loud environment for an extended period of time, or when you’re using loud equipment like a snowblower.
  1. Stay dry. If you swim, use a sauna, or shower during the winter, take care not to get any water in your ears. Using ear plugs is a good idea, but simply being careful and allowing any water that may have gotten into your ears to drain out by tilting your head and gently pulling on your earlobe works too.
  1. Winter-proof your hearing aids. A few extra precautions can help ensure your hearing aid is in tip-top shape all winter long:
    • Remember that extreme cold temperatures can reduce battery life, so check your hearing aid’s battery levels regularly.
    • Avoid moisture damaging the unit by wearing a hat, earmuffs, or headband over your ears to keep condensation from forming when you move from the cold into a warmer environment.
    • Open up the battery compartment to let any possible moisture evaporate once you’ve come back in from the cold.
    • Remember to carry a set of spare batteries with you at all times.
Man in orange and black ski suit on skis looking back at the camera on a sunny day on a ski slope

One of the best ways to care for your ears during the winter is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional, especially if you’ve noticed any changes in your ability to hear. A lot of people live with hearing loss without even realizing it, so it’s wise to have your hearing assessed regularly to determine the root cause of any hearing loss in case it can be treated before it gets any worse.

Start with a free, comprehensive hearing assessment and a free, 30-day hearing aid trial at a HearingLife clinic near you!

HearingLife forms the largest network of hearing clinics with over 400 network clinics across Canada. Staffed by certified hearing healthcare professionals, HearingLife offers the most advanced hearing aid technology and up-to-date diagnostic equipment, as well as clinical support and exclusive 360-AfterCare. #LoveYourEars and visit HearingLife to book an appointment for your free trial today.