Most people know they benefit from seeing an optometrist when things get a bit blurry around the edges, but fewer know how to go about caring for your ears, and especially what to do when they experience pain in their ear. Many may go on to develop hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds, untreated trauma or a combination of factors.
Knowing how to protect your hearing can prevent you from saying, “Huh?” repeatedly in the future. However, many continue practicing bad behaviours, such as putting their earphones on full blast. Here’s what everyone should know about how to protect their auditory health.
1. Learn How To Use a Cotton Swab
Despite efforts to promote warnings regarding the danger of using cotton swabs to clean ears, many parents and children alike continue to use them. However, inserting a cotton swab too far into the ear canal can perforate the eardrum. All parents should teach their children proper ear-cleaning techniques and practice them themselves.
To clean an ear, use a slightly dampened cloth to wipe excess wax, dirt and debris from the exterior. Olive oil can soften ear wax naturally, so you can use a drop or two to loosen anything that’s hardened. Occasionally, wax buildup can cause impaired hearing and an unpleasant sensation of fullness in the ear. If gentle techniques such as using a drop or two of olive oil fail to remove the blockage, a trip to the doctor is recommended.
2. Wear Proper Equipment When Operating Certain Devices
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets guidelines for protecting employees in the workplace from excessive noise levels. Some industrial machinery creates noise far exceeding healthy decibel levels. To remain legal, employers must issue ear protection for workers in certain positions, as well as visitors to the centre.
If staff members already suffer from some degree of hearing loss, employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless this creates an undue business burden. For example, an employer may remove an employee justifiably from a position that relies on verbal communication, such as phone work, if their auditory impairment renders them unable to do their job. However, employers cannot discriminate against the hearing impaired in offices where alternatives exist to speaking.
3. Wear Proper Ear Protection in Noisy Areas
Those residing near airports and interstates may need to install additional insulation and special windows to keep noise from disrupting their sleep. Sound becomes painful at only 120 decibels, the same amount produced as a plane makes taking off. People living in constantly bustling cities can purchase earbuds to help them sleep.
People in the habit of using their iPhone or iPad to drown out background noise benefit from keeping the buds tuned to levels less than 85 decibels. Those listening to music at 100 decibels or more can damage their hearing in as few as 15 minutes. As much as someone may love hearing their favourite rockers play at full blast, frequent concertgoers do themselves a favour by wearing protection.
4. Be Aware Of The Danger Of Eardrum Puncture
Eardrum puncture can occur for several reasons, like deep sea diving, but the most typical cause remains inserting foreign objects into the ear. Emergency departments have treated people with everything from bobby pins to pencils inserted in the ear. Teach the little ones not to stick things in their ear — and, of course, refrain from doing so personally.
Signs of a ruptured eardrum include a sudden, sharp pain in the ear. Because the middle and inner ears are sustained in fluid, perforating the eardrum can cause an imbalance, leading to nausea, vomiting and vertigo. Blood or pus may flow from the ear as well. Such injuries require intervention by a medical practitioner and can result in deafness.
5. Always See A Doctor To Remove Larger Objects
Anyone with entomophobia — fear of insects — or arachnophobia — fear of spiders — won’t like reading this section, but on occasion, bugs do get into the human ear canal and build a nest there. One woman recently shared her horrifying account of having a live cockroach stuck in her ear, which required a trip to the ER.
Fortunately, finding a bug enter the ear canal is relatively uncommon. However, if you experience unexplained acute pain and “hear” something buzzing around in there, seek medical attention rather than trying to remove a bug at home.
Healthy Hearing For Life
Fortunately, relatively few ear injuries occur as the result of nonpreventable reasons. By taking common-sense measures to protect auditory health, people can enjoy healthy hearing for life!