Guide To Protect Your Ears
Listening to loud music, driving up a mountain, sticking a Q-tip deep into your ear — these are just a few ways that everyday situations impact your most delicate organs.
Your ears may be small and easy to forget about, but that doesn’t mean you should not pay attention to them — or simply refuse to listen to what they are trying to tell you. We don’t normally think about our ears on a daily basis because they’re “out of sight, out of mind.” Like teeth, we only think about our ears when we’re already two days deep into a problem.
And, by then, it’s often too late to really do anything about the issue except address the symptoms at hand. But protecting your ears from these risks should be just as important as protecting your eyes from dirt and debris.
Luckily, our eyeballs have lids and eyelashes — guardians that act as a first line of defense. Our ears have none of these luxuries and rely on our good sense to protect them from external pressure as well as internal inflammation.
Hearing troubles? Listen up!
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, there’s a step-by-step process you’ll need to go through. First, you need to determine the cause: is it a secondary symptom? A mild and temporary side effect from medication? Or is it something that is progressively getting worse? Hearing loss can slowly creep up on you. Pressure in the inner ear tube, strain, or a ringing sensation doesn’t always seem that serious — even if accompanied by vertigo.
And, usually, it isn’t that serious. Your decision to seek professional help or not should be based on:
- Your age
- An account of activities that might be the cause of this (just a weekend out at a concert or a waterlogged ear that simply won’t clear?)
- Whether it’s accompanied by any other physical symptoms like a fever
- How long the pain/pressure persists and how often it returns
The ears are both strong and delicate at the same time: which is to say, for the most common issues like ringing in the ear and inner ear tenderness (especially when it relates to a stuffy sinus), the ears can get better on their own. But, in cases of impacted earwax, abnormal bone growth, or a painful cyst that needs to be drained, professional help should be the first response.
Other than that, there are several things you can do to relieve ear pressure or mild discomfort:
- Keep your room moist with the use of an air humidifier and use a neti pot to clear your sinuses; if you’re using a nasal spray, don’t use it for more than 3 consecutive days.
- When scuba diving or driving up a mountain, descend and ascend gradually, rather than suddenly and all at once. This will give your ears time to adjust to the change in pressure.
- Use white noise headphones or noise cancelling headphones to soothe ears after a loud commotion or concert.
- If you’re on medication for diabetes, kidney issues, or high blood pressure, make sure to address your concern about ototoxic medications with your doctor and try to find a remedy that does not have these side effects.
Hearing is one of our five senses that helps us feel more connected to our world and the people in it. Hearing allows us to enjoy the simple yet profound pleasures of a musical experience, communicate our needs, listen for and react to danger, and sense a change in the environment. Ears and the delicate equilibrium the inner ear maintains is also responsible for our sense of balance and center of gravity. Our ears play an integral role in our lives, so make sure to protect them at all times. Your ears will thank you for it.