Can Cold Weather Cause Hearing Loss?

Everybody loves the cold weather. During these times, we can freely flaunt our newly bought jacket, parka, and trench coat. It also the best time to enjoy staying at home in our sweater and a nice cup of hot chocolate. The cold weather is indeed the perfect end to a hard day’s work.

However, did you know that despite the cold weather being almost everyone’s favourite weather, it actually has a negative effect to a very important part of our body — our ears? For you hearing aid wearers, did you know that the weather can also have a huge impact on your device’s performance as well?

How Can the Cold Weather Cause Hearing Loss?

Exostosis is a benign outgrowth of cartilaginous tissue on a bone. Exposure of cold water and wind is normally the cause of this. In exostosis, the body creates an extra protective barrier to protect the ear. The bone located in the ear canal thickens which causes sound to be blocked and slowly resulting to hearing loss. The bones can also cause pain, and again, hearing loss.

Cold weather also causes ear wax to harden which may sometimes lead to blockage. This then may result to pain, feeling of fullness in the ear, tinnitus, dizziness, and headache. In fact, those who are wearing hearing aids are said to be at a higher risk of hardened earwax. It is because ears tend to produce more wax when there is a “foreign object” in it.

Is Exostosis Different from Surfer’s Ear?

Exostosis can simply be called as Surfer’s Ear. The name is derived from surfers and their contact with cold waters and strong winds for a prolonged duration without any protection. A common misconception is, however, that only surfers are the ones who are affected by this. In fact, anyone who is in a damp winter condition can also experience surfer’s ear. As long as you are exposed to cold water, strong winds, and lowered temperature, you are at risk. People who should be cautious about surfer’s ear are people who are into (but not limited to) diving, skiing, snowboarding, and the like.

Symptoms of Exostosis

There are various symptoms of exostosis. One of which is weakened or loss of hearing, either temporary or continuous. Another symptom is ear pain which is caused by the increase of ear infections. Moreover, having difficulty removing water from the ear can be a sign of surfer’s ear.

On hearing aids

Cold weather does not only affect our ears but also hearing aids, if you have one. The overall performance of the device can change. Low temperature can affect batteries. Hearing aids are no exception because they tend to work harder in cooler climates than in warm ones, thus, they use up more battery. Furthermore, condensation may occur in the device. Transferring from a wet and cold environment to a warm and dry surrounding can cause drops of water to form and damage the internals of the devices. To maintain your hearing devices, it is advised that you fully charge your hearing aids and bring a battery or two just in case. For condensation concerns, you may use a dryer specifically designed for hearing aids.

Ways to Prevent Exostosis

In the cold weather, you can take care of your hearing by keeping these tips in mind.

  1. Wear ear gear that do not only protect your ears but also provide warmth.
  2. Use fabrics that wick away moisture to prevent build-up within the ear.
  3. Dry out hearing aids and make sure that the batteries are also kept dry.
  4. If sick, do not air travel because the ears may not equalize pressure properly and may lead to rupture.

Need to have your ears and hearing aids checked? For all ear care concerns, you may contact Listening Lab at +65 6817 5100.

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