The rule of six, a common phrase that we all hear now, six is the magic number in helping to keep us safe and well but how does the rule of six apply to your ears and hearing?
Here are the top six things you can do to look after your ears and hearing health.
Keeping them clean.
You do not need to clean your ears. Your ears are self-cleaning. Cotton buds are your ears worst enemy. The skin inside your ear canal is so fine that using a cotton bud inside your ear is like taking sand paper to your elbow and you wouldn’t do that. It can damage the fine layers of skin causing them to become inflamed and sore and even bleed leaving it open to infection. If there is wax present the cotton bud will do no more than push the wax further into the ear canal to a point of no return causing more pain, discomfort and a trip to your hearing specialist to have the wax removed. Every time you talk or chew it causes a movement inside the ear canal that helps the wax migrate out of the ear naturally. If you want to use anything in your ears then I would suggest a weekly spray of Earol olive oil spray and no more.
Keep Your Ears Dry.
There will be a time in the not so distant future that we can all start enjoying swimming again and it is important to make sure your ears are dry after you have had a dip in the pool or after your shower. Leaving your ears wet leaves them open to bacteria which can cause infections in the ear. Use a soft towel to gently dry your ears after being in the water tilt your head to one side and gently pull on the ear lobe to help open up the ear canal so any excess water can drain from the ear. If you are a regular swimmer a good pair of properly fitted swim plugs can be really beneficial. Your hearing specialist can take an impression of your ear canal and order some custom made swim plugs for you giving you the best protection against infections in the ear.
Relax and De Stress.
Your ears and hearing can be affected by your stress levels. If you suffer from stress or anxiety it can have an effect on your circulatory system and that can have an effect on the hairs in the inner ear which can in turn effect your hearing. Stress can also trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sound that can be heard in one or both of your ears even when there isn’t an external sound present. It is a sound only you can hear and often becomes more noticeable when its quiet, so at night when you are trying to sleep. If you notice any signs of tinnitus speak to your hearing specialist and they can help with coping methods. Something as simple as keeping low level music on in the back ground to help distract you away from the sound when you are trying to relax, however there are more specialist devices that can be purchased to help.
Keep Your Ears Active
Its not been easy over this last year due to social restrictions but you should try to keep your ears active. Getting involved in the conversation when you see friends and family and not ignoring the phone when it rings. Listening to others and having an active role within the conversation keeps your ears and mind healthy don’t sit back and let them have all the fun we’ve all missed out on too much. If you notice that maybe you can’t hear all that’s going on around you as well as you used to its fine, an appointment with your hearing specialist will allow you to discuss your concerns and a solution to the problem can be found so you will be able to hear better again. Don’t live in silence.
Protect Your Ears.
Exposing your ears to loud sounds on a regular basis will over time cause damage to your hearing. Wearing headphones to listen to your music at an increased level for a prolonged period can cause damage to your hearing. A simple test to see if your listening volume is too loud is to take your headphones out of your ears and hold them at arm’s length, if you can still hear the music they are too loud, reduce the volume and try again until you can only hear them when they are placed back in your ears. You should keep the volume below 60% of the maximum output if you are going above it is too loud and over time can cause irreversible damage. My advice take regular breaks away from the sound source and reduce the overall listening volume.
Regular Hearing Tests.
Regular hearing tests. You wouldn’t think twice about going to the optician or the dentist for your regular check up but until there is a problem with your ears you wouldn’t book your self a hearing test. During a hearing test we not only test how good your hearing is but we check the health of your ears and spotting something early can make a huge difference to how it is treated. Our ears tell us a lot about a persons health with hearing loss being linked to dementia and now research is being conducted into how covid and long covid affects the hearing it is important that everyone has a regular hearing test, similar to when you have an eye test some people require a two year recall and others an annual recall everybody is different but everybody should get tested.