The arrival of cold winter weather can create stress for people who worry about the effects of the cold on their hearing. Here is some useful information on why your ears often ring in cold weather and what remedies are available to relieve these symptoms.
What is ringing in the ears?
A condition known as Tinnitus is a common cause of ringing in the ears, especially during winter. Similar sounds are buzzing, hissing, clicking, or roaring. This condition can worsen with age or in people with hearing loss, an ear injury, or circulatory system disorder.
The severity of the ringing or noise in the ear may differ from person to person and can be quite annoying or discomforting. Luckily, no one else can hear the sound unless you have extremely rare objective tinnitus where a doctor can hear what you hear during a hearing test.
What causes ringing in the ears?
You may hear ringing in the ear for various reasons including:
- Hearing loss
- Noise exposure over time
- Damage to the inner ear
- Pressure from hair in the ear
- Abnormal pressure in the ear from cold, flu, or sinus infection
- Water lodged in the middle ear
- Earwax blockage or buildup
- Certain health conditions, e.g., abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis)
- Ear injury or trauma
Preventing and treating ears ringing during winter
These tips may help you alleviate the discomfort or prevent ringing in the ears in the cold weather seasons:
- Wear protective gear: Extensive exposure to cold winter weather can be brutal on the skin and the ear. Frostbites and moisture make it easier for moisture to seep into the ear and cause “surfer’s ear" or affect your hearings aids. The risk of abnormal bone growth in the ear (exotosis) is also higher. Wearing thermal hats or earmuffs can help keep ears protected during the season.
- Remove excess earwax: Earwax tends to harden during winter and can easily result in blockage. You may follow simple home care steps for clearing the ears such as irrigating the ear with water, oil, or hydrogen peroxide. This can, however, be a bit risky. To avoid ear damage or hearing loss, it is always best to have excessive wax cleared by your doctor or hearing care professional.
- Wear hearing aids: External sounds reduce the brain’s own “sound production” so addressing hearing loss with professionally fitted hearing aids is the best treatment.
- Clean hearing aids: More wax is produced when an object is inserted into the ear for an extended period. People who wear hearing aids have a greater chance of experiencing ringing in the ears. To avoid this, have your ears cleaned as needed, preferably by your doctor. Also clean your hearing aids regularly to ensure best performance.
- Test your ears: It may be a good idea to do a hearing test if you’re not sure what’s causing the ringing sound. Your hearing care professional can determine what’s causing the noise, if you have hearing loss, or whether your hearing aids need upgrading.
- Treat underlying conditions: Sometimes treating an underlying health condition such a cold, flu, sinus congestion, ear infection, or otosclerosis can eliminate the ringing sound.
- Sound therapy: Some hearing aids can also be used to mask the sound in the ear. These devices utilize a technology that produces background music or white noise. Signia also offers the world’s only hearing aids with built-in Notch Therapy.
When to see a doctor
To ensure your ears are functioning well, you can make an appointment with your healthcare professional to have a hearing test done. Your doctor can also check for wax buildup and clear any blockage if necessary. Severe cases of tinnitus may require canalplasty, a surgical procedure done by opening the ear canal and removing abnormal growths or bony lumps present.
In some cases, hearing aids, such as those with the built-in Notch Therapy, help to improve symptoms of tinnitus or make them go away completely. Feel free to use our store locator to contact a health care provider and let ear ringing or discomfort be one less stress to deal with this winter