DOES COLD WEATHER CAUSE EAR INFECTIONS?
Contrary to popular belief, cold weather does not cause ear infections. An ear infection is caused by bacteria in the upper respiratory system that travels up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear.
Even though cold weather doesn’t cause the issue, it can make symptoms more pronounced. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms, seek treatment. Studies show that recurring ear infections can cause hearing loss.
There are many factors that influence a person’s likelihood of developing hearing loss.Most people often think about genetic and age-related causes, but fail to consider other controllable factors that can affect their hearing. Many may not even consider environmental factors such as exposure to cold weather conditions.
However, when frequently exposed to harsh weather, people risk damaging their hearing and increasing the risk of loss. It’s important to understand how cold weather can hurt your hearing!
It could lead to ‘surfer’s ear’
People exposed to cold temperatures and weather conditions need to take special care of their ears. After long periods of time in the cold, snow and wet weather, a person can develop a condition called exostosis (commonly called ‘surfer’s ear’). A common misconception – surfer’s ear doesn’t just affect those who surf. Surfers are the most often afflicted because of their frequent exposure to strong winds and cold water. However, damp winter conditions can also lead to exostosis.
Exostosis occurs when cold and wet environments cause abnormal bone outgrowth to form inside of the ear canal, blocking the passage and impeding hearing. Early symptoms can include trapped water inside the ear and frequent ear infections.
It increases your risk of winter ear infections
Your chances of developing an ear infection are already high in winter because the cold temperatures limit the circulation in the ear. Therefore, spending long periods of time outside during winter months can further increase the likelihood of developing an ear infection.
It is normal for people to experience at least one or two ear infections in their lifetime. But, continuous ear infections can become a serious problem, leading to hearing loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists chronic ear infections as one of the primary causes of hearing loss.
In order to prevent wintertime infections, individuals should limit their time outside. When going outdoors is unavoidable, you should wear beanies, ear muffs and other protective head gear.
It Can Damage Hearing Aids
Prolonged exposure to cold weather can affect ear health as well as the performance of hearing devices. Individuals who wear hearing aids should take special care of their devices since cold temperatures can impact how they function.
For instance, low temperatures affect the battery life of cars, phones, and other types of electronics. Hearing aids that utilize batteries also lose more battery life in winter weather in comparison to a warm climate. Another concern for hearing aids in the winter is the condensation that results when someone goes from the wet and cold environment outside to the warm air indoors. Drops of water may form and damage hearing devices.
To preserve battery life, individuals should fully charge their hearing aids at home or bring an extra pair of batteries when traveling. To prevent problems from condensation, people can use a dryer that is specially designed for hearing aids.
As the winter passes by, people may not think about the threats that result from exposure to the cold weather; however, with proper protective gears and smart acts, the chances of negatively impacting your ear health and hearing will decrease. The best way to keep your ears healthy this winter is to avoid being outside for long periods and protecting your ears and hearing aids.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT COLD-INDUCED EAR PAIN?
While you can’t prevent an ear infection from developing, you can prevent ear pain that comes from decreased blood circulation in cold weather. Whenever you’re outside, be sure to cover your ears with a winter hat or ear muffs. This will provide warmth and protect you from harsh winds.