Ear protection can help to prevent problems such as ear pain and tinnitus in winter. You can also take steps to reduce the risk of ear infections so that you can enjoy a healthier winter season.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Ears?
Ears are particularly vulnerable to cold weather because they don’t have the same layer of fat that protects the rest of our bodies. The nerves in our ears are more exposed to the cold. Our ears are therefore usually the first part of the body to feel cold and they can become quite painful if we spend too long outdoors without ear protection. If there is a lot or rain or wind then it can make the problem even worse by irritating our ears.
Winter weather can be particularly difficult if you already have issues with your ears. The cold weather can trigger tinnitus for some people, perhaps due to the changes in our circulation in response to the low temperatures. It can also cause problems for some hearing aids. The batteries can wear down faster when it is very cold and condensation can form inside the hearing aids, which could affect the electronics.
Another reason why we can experience more ear problems in winter is that colds and other infections spread more easily at this time of year. Getting cold won’t cause an ear infection but winter weather can make us more vulnerable to the infections that can spread to our ears. We are therefore more likely to suffer from ear infections during the winter. The symptoms of an ear infection can also feel worse when we step out into the cold so it is particularly important to use a hat or scarf for ear protections when you’re feeling unwell in winter.
Ear Protection in Winter
If you suffer from tinnitus or ear pain in cold weather then there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself.
The first thing you can do is to avoid spending time outdoors when the weather is at its coldest. Keep an eye on the weather forecast so that you can avoid outdoor activities during particularly cold periods. It can also be a good idea to avoid going out first thing in the morning as this is often when the air is coldest. If you can delay your trip by just an hour or two then the sun will have had a chance to warm up the air a little.
It isn’t always possible to avoid going out in the cold. If you do have to spend time outside then it is important to dress for the winter weather. The most important item of clothing for ear protection in winter will be a hat. You should choose a warm hat that covers your ears. You might want to choose a style with ear flaps or a hat that can be pulled down over your ears. Another option would be to wear ear muffs. Wrapping a scarf around your face and ears could also have the same effect and it can also help to protect your nose. The important thing is that your ears should be covered so that they’re kept warm.
If you wear hearing aids then you should take extra care to keep them clean and dry in winter. You can buy special drying boxes to combat condensation if you keep having problems with them.
Preventing Ear Infections in Winter
We can also take steps to avoid catching colds and infections that could spread to our ears or trigger secondary ear infections. One way you can do this is by getting the seasonal flu jab, which can prevent you from catching the most prevalent strains of influenza that are circulating in the UK at the moment. It can’t protect you against other strains of flu but it does reduce the chances of getting ill. Other ways you can protect yourself include avoiding people who are coughing or sneezing (as much as possible) and ensuring that you wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing food, eating or touching your face.
It isn’t always possible to avoid colds and infections competently but taking these precautions can reduce the risk. The fewer colds you catch this winter, the less likely you are to develop an ear infection afterwards.