Attending Noisy Events, Swimming, and Traveling Can Affect Ears of Children and Adults
ROCKVILLE, Md., May 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — With summer fast approaching, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is calling attention to a lesser-known hazard of many popular seasonal activities: ear and hearing damage. The good news, according to ASHA, is that by taking some simple steps, people of all ages can protect their ears from both temporary and lasting problems.
“Just as we wear sunglasses to protect our eyes and sunscreen to protect our skin, we all should be taking basic measures to protect our ears during our favorite summer activities,” said Robert Augustine, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2023 ASHA President. “Most of us take our hearing and ear health for granted until we start to have problems. It’s really important that we keep the safety of our ears top of mind this summer.”
Here’s a closer look at some common activities that can harm the ears and hearing—and ways people can protect themselves:
Noisy Summer Activities
Attending fireworks displays, concerts and festivals, and sporting events—as well as participating in loud hobbies such as lawn care or riding ATVs or motorbikes—can damage a person’s hearing. ASHA encourages people to help prevent hearing loss by taking these steps:
- Use Hearing Protection: Basic earplugs, which are available at drug stores, offer surprisingly good protection for most adults. An even better bet is musician’s earplugs, which you can purchase online or have an audiologist custom fit. Children are generally better off using well-fitting earmuffs instead of earplugs.
- Stay Away From Noise Sources: From a hearing protection perspective, the worst place someone can position themselves is near speakers, a stage, or another type of noise emitter. ASHA recommends standing at least 500 feet from noise sources.
- Heed Warning Signs: If a person is experiencing ringing in their ears or any other ear discomfort, they should leave the noisy environment right away. If symptoms continue the next day, visit an audiologist.
The louder the noise, the less time it takes to damage a person’s hearing. Being exposed to excessive noise for too long (and too often) can result in noise-induced hearing loss. Although this type of hearing loss is preventable, once it occurs, it’s irreversible. A safe listening level is generally 75–80 decibels. For comparison, a loud concert may reach 115 decibels—and fireworks can register at 150 decibels. Many smartphones and smartwatches now have options to monitor noise levels and can warn a person if their environment is too noisy.
Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal caused by moisture trapped in the ear canal or an injury to the ear canal. Although people of any age can get swimmer’s ear, it’s more common in children. Some people with skin conditions are more prone to swimmer’s ear.
Usually, these infections are treated with eardrops from a doctor. If the ear canal is very swollen, a doctor may have to leave a piece of cotton—soaked in medicine—in the ear to fight the infection. They also may prescribe pain medication. To help prevent swimmer’s ear, keep the ear canal dry, and be sure to do the following:
- Use a towel to dry both ears well after swimming and bathing.
- Tilt the head to drain water from the ears. Pull on earlobes to straighten out the ear canals and let water out.
- Wear swimmer’s earplugs (especially people who swim a lot and/or are prone to ear problems). An audiologist can make custom molds for children and adults. A swim cap can also help keep ears dry.
ASHA urges people to never put anything in their ears. Cotton swabs, fingernails, and pointed objects can scratch the ear canal, making it easier to get an infection. Earwax helps protect ears from infection. Most people don’t need to remove earwax from their ears, but if wax buildup seems excessive, talk to a doctor.
Airplane ear occurs when dramatic changes in pressure cause an imbalance between the pressure in the inner ear and the pressure in the outside environment. Ears should return to normal within a few hours or within a day—often with a harmless pop. But if pain or muffled sounds persist, visit a doctor. It is rare that this hearing difficulty will continue, but if it does, seek help from a certified audiologist.
There’s not much that people can do to prevent changes in pressure on an airplane, but simple steps can help alleviate the symptoms and discomfort. For younger children, try the following:
- Encourage them to swallow—provide a drink for them to sip on.
- Have them suck on a pacifier.
- Keep them awake during takeoff and descent, so they can take prevention measures.
For older children and adults, try these strategies:
- Chew gum.
- Yawn, and swallow.
- Use Earplanes® or other travel earplugs.
- Stay awake during takeoff and descent.
For more information about hearing loss, and to find a certified audiologist, visit www.asha.org/public.
Media Contact: Francine Pierson, [email protected], 301-296-8715
SOURCE American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/asha-offers-tips-for-ear-care-and-hearing-protection-this-summer-301836170.html
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