Earache is characterized by pain in the ear, teeth or head, a full feeling in the ear or even discharge from the ear. It has multiple causes, from infection or foreign body to noise exposure. Most earaches get better without treatment, but some can cause infection to spread to other areas of the body and eventually, hearing loss.
It has long been known that tinnitis--ringing in the ears and partial hearing loss--is caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise, including everything from traffic noise to loud music. A study by Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, India, has shown that earphones in particular can cause hearing loss. Loud sound through earphones can cause tinnitis by being so close to the eardrum; earphones can also cause a nasty infection because earbuds carry germs like staphylococcus, and the sealed environment of the ear with the bud inside incubates the germs.
Prevention of Hearing Loss
A few important things can be done to prevent ear infection and noise-related hearing loss. First, keep the volume down. If another person can hear your music, it's too loud--and this goes for your car stereo as well as your MP3 player. Wear earplugs at concerts or sporting events, or if you work in a noisy environment. Don't share earphones, as this can spread germs. Clean earphones with a drop of alcohol on a cotton ball, and clean your ears every time you shower or bathe.
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