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Listen to this good advice for ear health

16 March 2017

According to Action on Hearing Loss, more than 11 million people in the UK live with some form of hearing loss, and by 2035 that’s estimated to rise to a staggering 15.6 million – a fifth of the population.

What’s more, research suggests those suffering hearing impairment are also more susceptible to anxiety and depression.

Spire Parkway Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant Matthew Trotter, looks at how modern life could be affecting your ears. 

Loud noises: “Exposure to loud noises for long periods could put you at risk of permanent hearing loss. Tinnitus – or ringing in the ears – can be an early warning sign of hearing damage, but the most worrying thing is that you won’t know if you’ve done permanent damage until it’s already done,” said Mr Trotter.

“It is a good idea to take a break from loud noises to allow your fragile inner ears to recover.”

Water: “Most people don’t have a problem when water enters their ears. However some are susceptible to itchy ears when they are regularly exposed to water and can be more vulnerable to Otitis externa, or ‘swimmer’s ear’. Symptoms include ear pain, itching, discharge, tenderness, and even a degree of hearing loss."

Foreign objects: “Ears are normally self-cleaning so trying to stop earwax is as futile as trying to prevent the production of urine. Sticking cotton buds or pen tops into the ear simply pushes the wax in too far and stops it coming out of the ear – so don’t do it!

“Ear candles supposedly help remove wax - there’s no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of the method. A popular saying in ENT is ‘Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear!’ It is much better for ear care if you just clean the outside of your ears with a damp flannel.” 

Pressure changes “Eustachian tubes, between middle ear and back of nose let air in and out of the middle ear when we experience pressure changes. Most people who have been on a plane notice their ears often ‘pop’ when descending and this is the tube opening to release pressure.

"If the tube blocks, which can occur with colds or allergies, then the ears can become very painful with pressure changes. A nasal decongestant can be very useful if taken just before flying in those who have a history of problems with their ears when flying. People who scuba dive often have the same problem and the same treatment is may be useful."

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