Ears are crucial to our interpretation of the world, affecting everything from our ability to communicate to our balance. Deciphering sound waves into speech and language is only a small part of the role of the ear. Without the correct and healthy functioning of these obscure appendages, people could find it challenging to communicate and interact with each other.
Prescriptive and routine yearly ear care is crucial to peoples’ perception and involvement in the world, not merely for the capability of hearing (because not everyone can) but for movement and meaningful connection with the world. The remainder of this article will focus on the six healthy habits of an ear care routine.
1. Ear Cleaning and General Safety
People commonly use cotton swabs to clean their ears, not realizing that such intrusive cleaning is mostly unnecessary, if not problematic. Your ears are virtually self-cleaning, pushing excess ear wax from the inner ear to the outer ear regularly, allowing for easy removal with a damp washcloth and nothing else.
The use of a cotton swap inserted to and twisted around the ear canal can lead to the problems you want to avoid, primarily impaction. The cotton swab can remove some earwax, but it mainly pushes the wax deeper into the canal, lodging it in the channel, leading to obstructions, hearing loss, and potential infection.
To avoid complications, focus your attention on the outer ear, using a washcloth damp with warm water. If you find that earwax is building within your ear, contact a doctor or audiologist for safe removal. You can also ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter drops that can help the ear’s natural lubrication process to expel wax buildups.
2. Foreign Objects and Injury Prevention
People have an unfortunate habit of shoving foreign objects into their ears, from cotton swabs to earplugs. While some items can help protect your ears, if they are too small or protrude too deeply into the ear canal, you risk injury.
The general rule is that an object should not be smaller than your elbow; keeping items to this presumptive size means they cannot sit too deeply in the ear. However, depth is not the only concern. Wearing in-ear headphones can also lead to potential hearing loss or injury if you consistently listen at high volume. Take care of your ears by staying cautious about foreign objects and internal interaction.
3. Noise Levels and Hearing Protection
Young people tend to listen to music without much focus on volume, but the negligence of decibel ranges can lead to premature hearing loss. The persistent or habitual listening to music at a decibel range of 85 or more can and probably will lead to hearing problems, including but not limited to tinnitus or noticeable hearing losses. The problems stem from the irreversible damage to ear fibers, so to prolong these integral fibers’ health, hearing protection is a part of recommended ear care.
4. Hearing Aids and Infection Prevention
If you wear hearing aids, the cleanliness of your ears and the device are crucial. Sweat and earwax buildup can lead to the aid’s breakdown, making listening challenging, if not impossible.
Beyond the longevity of the device, you must consider the health of your ear. A dirty hearing aid can contribute to more significant risks of infection. Consider that you insert the hearing aid into the ear; any bacteria on the device then transmits to the ear. While simple cleaning is easy enough on your own, for deep cleaning of the components, be sure to take your device to a hearing professional.
5. Sunscreen and Sunburn Avoidance
Think of the last time you applied sunscreen, rubbing it on your arms, using it on your face, your neck. Did you put any on your ears? Not surprisingly, most people neglect their ears when applying sunscreen, leading to the ears being one of the parts of the body most susceptible to skin cancer.
Your ears protrude away from your head, leaving them more exposed to the sun, uncovered by clothing or hats, yet still sensitive to burns and exposure risks. Next time you apply sunscreen, make sure to dab some on your ears, if only for good measure.
6. Doctors and Audiologists
While all of the above suggestions are good for chronic and annual ear care, none have spoken to the need for doctors and audiologists. While visiting an audiologist is unnecessary every year, adults should schedule a visit every three to five years, going more frequently the older they get. For general health, including the ears, make an annual doctor’s appointment for a physical.
Never underestimate the value of healthy ears. The way you interpret friends, family, and the environment all depend on these marvelous appendages’ health and wellness. The above six tips, if adopted, will contribute to ear health and longevity, but remember that knowledge is nothing without practice; to have healthy ears, you must treat them well.