How to Care for Ears

Care for Ears
Care for Ears

How to Care for Ears. Taking care of your ears involves two things: caring for the outer ear itself for cosmetic reasons, and protecting your hearing by caring for the inside of your ear. The following will show you ways to protect your ears from damage, infection and hearing loss.

Caring for Your Ears

Avoid blows to the outer ear. If you wrestle, box or participate in a contact sport such as rugby, wear headgear that includes protection for your ears. Repeated blows to the outer ear can result in a condition called cauliflower ear, in which the cartilage of the ear is damaged and the ear becomes deformed.

Pierce carefully, particularly if piercing cartilage. An infected piercing can cause permanent damage to the outer ear, something that will ruin the look of any earring.

Clean your ears with a washcloth-covered finger only. Never put anything inside your ear canal, including cotton swabs. Your ear canal is very narrow, and a swab or finger can damage it; they can also cause ear wax to get pushed against the ear drum, which can cause hearing problems.

Leave ear wax alone. Wax is your ear's way of trapping and eliminating anything foreign that gets into the ear canal. Most people don't need to clean wax out of their ears. If you find you have too much ear wax (it's visible in the ear or it's affecting your hearing), use a few drops of ear wax remover or hydrogen peroxide in the canal. After a few minutes, flush the ear with a rubber bulb and tepid water.

Protecting Your Hearing

Avoid noisy places. NASCAR racetracks, firing ranges, rock concerts and construction sites are just a few places that frequently have noise levels that can damage hearing. Any place where you have to shout to be heard should be avoided. If you choose to go anyway, wear earplugs.

Turn the volume down. Be careful not to play personal stereos and televisions too loud, especially if using headphones or earbuds.

See your doctor if you have an earache. Ear infections can damage the ear drum or the bones of the middle ear, causing hearing loss. Your doctor may prescribe medication or order a minor surgical procedure to help you if you suffer from frequent infections.

Be careful with illness and medications. Respiratory illnesses should be treated to avoid their spread to the ears. Certain medications can damage hearing; take only what's prescribed for you and follow the directions carefully. Avoid others who are ill; some illnesses can only be treated with antibiotics that can damage hearing.

Stop smoking. Smokers are more likely to lose their hearing than non-smokers.

See your doctor if you suffer from sudden hearing loss or hear noises in your head (tinnitus). These can be symptoms of a serious illness which needs to be treated.

Tips & Warnings

  • When flying, take care not to let pressure build up in your ears. Yawn frequently, chew gum, hold your nose while trying to exhale or move your jaw to help the pressure equalize during take-off and landing. Try not to fly when you're congested; if you have no choice, take decongestants before and during the flight.
  • If you are a SCUBA-diver, learn how to properly descend and ascend so pressure changes don't damage your hearing.
  • Prolonged exposure to things that don't seem loud can damage hearing. Take a break from the food processor, lawnmower or washing machine and seek a quiet place to let your ears "rest."
  • Certain chemicals can damage hearing if absorbed by the body. Wear protective clothing and equipment when dealing with chemicals at work or at home.

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