It’s oh-so-easy to hate our ears. After all, for most people it’s thanks to the hearing loss in our ears that we have tinnitus.
But, in spite of that, we really ought to show them love instead. Why? Because treating them badly will likely result in (further) hearing loss and more tinnitus.
I don’t think any of us want that!
So here are some ways to care for your ears that will help keep more suffering at bay:
1. Resist! Resist the urge to mess with your ears. The only thing smaller than your elbow to go in your ears should be.
a. moulds or domes for your hearing aids/tinnitus maskers and
b. ear plugs.
That means no cotton buds (I know, I know, it’s SO tempting) and no hopi ear candles!
2. Take a break. If you spend a lot of time using headphones on the phone or video calls, give your ears regular breaks. Ear breaks can easily be built into “comfort” or “bio” breaks, that should take place regularly anyway. If your work practices or meeting agendas don’t allow for that, why not suggest them? Not only will your ears be grateful, your colleagues will too.
3. Don’t max out the volume! If you use headphones or earbuds in a noisy environment like public transport or a busy street, you’re going to want to nudge the volume up to be able to hear what you’re playing better. Please don’t! Your poor ears will take a battering. Instead, invest in noise-cancelling technology so it’s easier to hear what you want to hear. This applies equally if your phone streams via Bluetooth into your hearing aids. If your hearing aids have domes rather than moulds you may struggle to hear your phone over the ambient noise of the environment around you.
4. Use hearing protection. If you’re heading into a noisy situation such as a bar or gig it’s a no-brainer to use hearing protection if you can. You can find out about the most common kinds, and how to use them, here. If your friends make a joke of this, download a decibel meter (I use Decibel X) and show them how loud it is. Who’s the joke on now?!
5. Always carry protection. We can often find ourselves exposed to noise when we least expect it. We might turn a corner to find someone using a jack hammer to tear up the pavement. Or emergency services pass by with sirens blaring. The quickest thing is to stick your fingers in your ears (yes, discount what I said in 1 above for these purposes!). But the most effective thing is to dig out a trusty pair of earplugs from your bag, rucksack or pocket. I never go anywhere without mine.
6. Check your hearing. Many of us have regular check-ups for our eyes, and other parts of our bodies if something is wrong. But few of us think about checking our hearing regularly. You don’t have to go to an audiologist for this. There are free services like this one at RN:ID which will give you a good indication of whether you need to make a more formal appointment.
Still not convinced? As well as being linked to isolation and dementia, untreated hearing loss can also cause us to listen at unsafe volumes because we’re trying to fill the gaps in our hearing.