Wondering whether it's safe to clean your ears with cotton buds or whether you should use ear plugs when swimming? Find out the answers to these questions and more.
There are a lot of myths surrounding proper care for your ears. Some people think regularly cleaning them out is a good idea, others disagree. The fact is, it’s hard to know exactly what we should be doing with our ears to keep them healthy and working properly. We are here to get the story straight with our key dos & don'ts of hearing care.
Do consider buying noise cancelling headphones
Not only will this give you a more pleasurable music experience, but noise cancelling headphones also remove any unwanted noise, such as the sound of a train, a bus or plane. By removing the unwanted noise, noise cancelling headphones ultimately allow you to reduce the volume of your music!
Do clean excess ear wax with a cloth and water
Your ear wax is meant to be there. It exists to reduce the number of contaminants flowing through your ear canal. Occasionally it will leak out the canal of your ear, becoming visible. You should gently clean the small unsightly amount of wax with a wet cloth.
Do use earplugs when swimming
If you’re a frequent swimmer, you should definitely consider using earplugs which prevent too much water from entering your ear. As a one off, swimming without earplugs is fine, but if you’re a frequent swimmer ‘Swimmers Ear’ becomes a real risk, which is caused by your warm ear being topped up by water and bacteria.
Do plane-proof your ears
The change in air pressure when taking off or landing can cause many ear problems such as pain, bleeding or even perforation. To prevent discomfort, chew, swallow or yawn to try and equalise your sinus pressures. Often it is easy to chew on some candy or chewing gum.
Do set headphone playback to a suitable max volume
Deeper within the setting of your phone or music player should be the option to set a maximum volume level. Whereby, even if you adjust the volume when listening, you won’t be able to exceed this pre-set max volume. This function is a good tool to use to ensure that you don’t damage your hearing by creeping above your set max volume level.
Don't blast your ears with music
This may seem obvious, but often people unknowingly set the volume above a safe volume. Try not to listen to music through your headphones for more than an hour at a time, this will ensure your hearing has time to recover from noise exposure. Also be conscious of the fact you might turn the volume of your music up to drown out your noisy environment such as a plane or when on a bus. While your music may not seem very loud, it might be much louder than you think, which can cause hearing damage.
Don't stand next to the speaker in at a concert
Although you’re caught up in the moment listening to your favourite band play, be careful that you don’t cause ear damage. If you regularly go to concerts and experience your ears ringing, you’re likely causing irreversible hearing damage. If you’re a frequent concert-goer there are plenty of discreet looking earplugs available that you can use to turn down the volume, often, this actually improves the music quality!
Don't clean your ears with cotton tips
There is a reason that cotton tip boxes say ‘do not insert into your ear’! Attempting to clean your ears with cotton tips usually results in you pushing the ear wax back down your ear canal, causing the earwax to build up. This may cause infection and limit your hearing ability.
Don't swim in dirty water
Swimming in dirty water (creeks, dams, rivers, lakes etc.) will expose your ears to bacteria and parasites which may be living in the water. If you do want to swim in these bodies of dirty water, try not to let your head go below the surface, especially if the water seems particularly dirty.
Don't use ear candles
The effectiveness of ear candles is a total myth. Often ear candles will cause more harm than good. Ear candles can be extremely risky, mainly because you’re suspending a burning candle above your head, and also because if your ear is facing upwards there is a risk of contaminants and wax flowing back down your ear canal.