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Healthy Balance

Hearing Loss & Ear Infections: How to Protect Your Ears

girl listening to music on her phone with headphones

Ear pain or trouble with your hearing can ruin your plans for fun and relaxation. Do your late summer plans include watching fireworks, traveling, or spending time at the beach or pool? Taking a few precautions will help you avoid these common ear problems.

Hearing Loss

Your risk of hearing loss increases when your ears are exposed to loud noises, such as those at a concert, fireworks show, or even through your earbuds. Loud noise damages the hair cells in your inner ear. These cells send sound signals to your brain and play an important role in hearing. If the cells are damaged, they can’t transmit the signals.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you may experience hearing loss if you listen to sounds at 85 decibels for more than 8 hours. Sounds at higher decibel levels can damage your hearing much more quickly.

To avoid temporary or more permanent hearing loss:

Need a Hearing Test?

Your provider may refer you to an audiologist if you're experiencing hearing loss.

Ear Infections

Using earbuds can also increase your risk of an ear infection. Bacteria collects on the surface of the buds if you don’t clean them with a moist cloth or alcohol wipe after each use. Then when you put the earbuds back in your ear, that bacteria can travel into your ear canal and cause problems. Never share earbuds with anyone; this increases the number of bacteria on the earbuds.

An ear infection may also cause problems after a day at the beach or pool. Swimmer’s ear, a painful infection that affects the outer part of the ear canal, can happen if you get water in your ear. Reduce your risk of developing swimmer’s ear by:

Ear Pressure

Will you be traveling on an airplane this summer? Taking off and landing changes the pressure in your ears and can clog them, causing pain and difficulty hearing.

Equalize ear pressure during your flight by:

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