The ear lobes are the only visible part of our hearing system. The ear also helps in keeping us balanced. But we often ignore the health of this vital organ. Cleaning is only a part of holistic ear care. Ear care should also include measures to avoid unnecessary noise and protect your ears from risk factors causing hearing loss.
Let's begin our journey toward holistic ear care.
Clean your ears in a proper way
One should be cautious while cleaning ears. Some simple hygiene tips are:
- If you want to clean your ears, never use anything smaller than a wet washcloth on your finger.
- Avoid using safety pins, toothpicks, pens, or sharp pointed objects for ear cleaning. These pointed objects can cause injury to your ear canal or eardrum.
- Most of us consider ear wax a waste inside our ears and try to remove it. The wax is a natural self-cleaning way of our ears. One should not try to remove it. Consult your doctor if the wax build-up interrupts your hearing instead of a self-cleansing hack or pain and ear fullness due to hand impacted wax.
- In India, ear piercing is common. If you have pierced ears, you can use alcohol swabs to clean earrings and earlobes.
Taking care of ear health
Ear health is not only about ear cleaning. Healthy ear habits also include knowledge of illnesses and medications that can trouble your ear.
- Our body is a network of interconnected organs, tissues, and cells. Any illness in a distant part of the body may cause hearing problems.
- Sometimes we ignore continuous itching or pain in the ears. It is better to visit your ENT doctor. The ENT specialist will examine your ear, try to ascertain the root cause, and determine the treatment accordingly.
- Some medications can affect hearing. Take medications as prescribed, and consult your doctor if you experience hearing and balance problems or a ringing sensation in the ears.
- Sometimes you can experience drainage from the ears. It can be a warning sign for infection. Never ignore it.
Be careful about the noise levels in your surroundings. The most often ignored aspect of ear care is the decibel levels or noise levels around you. It is critical to guard our ears against noise pollution, such as:
- You can use hearing protection gears if you are under higher noise levels. It can be during drilling, mowing, or using any machine generating high decibels. If you are using home theatres or stereos, avoid using high volume. If you use a personal sound system like headphones or earphones, put the sound at a comfortable level. We often fail to identify the optimal sound levels.
- Do not put on earphones continuously for hours. Remove them from time to time and give your ears a rest.
- Put on safety earplugs at nightclubs, rock concerts, swimming / sea diving and other loud-noise events.
- Keep your car stereo volumes at comfortable levels. It will not only protect your ears from hearing problems but may avoid road accidents.
Protect your ears from external injuries
The ears are sensitive organs. They are susceptible to both external (impact) and internal injuries. One should take care of the ears when you are doing daily activities.
Some easy tips to protect your ears are:
- Wear helmets while biking, skiing, or any other activity that can cause severe injury to your head and ears.
- If you want to do scuba diving, try to learn and practice proper underwater techniques. It will help you prevent potentially hearing damage due to pressure changes inside your ears.
- During traveling by air, frequent swallowing and yawning during the flight-landing can normalize pressure in your ears.
- If you are experiencing sinusitis, rhinitis, or any other upper respiratory tract infection, take a decongestant tablet a few hours before landing or decongestant spray just before landing.
- Using earplugs with special filters during air traveling can help equalize the air pressure in your ears.
Regular Ear Check-Ups
When was the last time you went for an ear check-up? Have you ever discussed your hearing problems with an ENT doctor?
We often ignore our ear-related issues or shy away from taking ENT consultations. A regular ear check-up is critical for our holistic ear care plan. Also, do not hesitate to take an ENT consultation if needed.
- Consult your healthcare provider if you observe scales or bumps on the external ear.
- If you have incurred an ear injury or have experienced ear pain or a sudden change in your hearing, visit the ENT surgeon immediately.
How do you know if you have hearing loss?
The phenomenon of hearing loss can be sudden or gradual. There are times when the signs and symptoms are apparent, and there are times when they are not.
Some warning signs of hearing loss are as follows:
- Sometimes you are unable to hear conversations, especially in noisy backgrounds.
- Frequently, you request others to repeat themselves during a conversation.
- Sometimes you do not understand what others are saying during a conversation. You nod your head or smile when not sure what to say.
- You find it difficult to hear what others say during a phone call.
- You strain your ears to keep up with the conversation.
- You keep the television volume at a higher volume than what others in the room prefer.
- You feel that people mumble when they talk to you.
- You are not able to hear natural sounds, such as the chirping of birds.
- You try to withdraw from social gatherings or group discussions because it becomes difficult for you to hear.
- Sometimes you have a continuous ringing or other noise in either or both of your ears (tinnitus).
Ears are critical to us. They not only help us in making communications but also help maintain the body balance. We often ignore their health. Even a little focus on ear health can reap substantial benefits.
Protect your ears from any injury. Do not opt for self-cleansing. Last but not least, consult with your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any abnormalities in your ear.