Learn about some of the best ways to take care of ears.

Hearing is one of the most important senses that you possess. Hearing is essential for maintaining relationships and connections with friends and family, fully participating in team and community activities, and experiencing life events. Hearing makes it possible to engage, listen, laugh, and enjoy many of the things that help shape your quality of life. Here is some insight on how hearing works and how to take care of your ears.

How do ears work?

The Outer Ear

The visible portion of the outer ear collects sound waves and channels them into the ear canal where the sound is amplified. The sound waves then travel toward a flexible, oval membrane at the end of the ear canal called the eardrum, or tympanic membrane. Sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate.

The Middle Ear

The vibrations from the eardrum set three tiny bones called ossicles into motion, which further amplifies the sound. The Eustachian tube, which opens into the middle ear, is responsible for equalizing the pressure between the air outside the ear and that within the middle ear.

The Inner Ear

The sound waves enter the inner ear and then into the cochlea, a snail-shaped organ. The cochlea is filled with a fluid that moves in response to the vibrations from the ear drum. As the fluid moves, 25,000 nerve endings are set into motion. These nerve endings transform the vibrations into electrical impulses that then travel along the auditory nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

The inner ear also contains the vestibular organ that is responsible for balance.

Why is caring for ears so important?

Your hearing is an incredibly important sense for navigating the world around you, communicating with others, and even avoiding danger. Your ears are also very complex and delicate organs that need to be cared for, cleaned, and protected, this is especially so for children, or else your hearing can be damaged. 

Ways to take care of the ears

Use hearing protection

Be proactive about caring for ears and wear hearing protection. Hearing protection is extremely important whenever you are in an environment with loud noises. Loud music is very common, but also use hearing protection any time you are around loud cars, firing guns, and industrial factories or other loud work environments. If you work in a loud environment, your employer should mandate hearing protection to avoid workers comp claims– take care of your ears and mind your employer’s hearing protection rules–they are in place for a reason.

Don’t listen to loud music

Although earbuds have huge popularity, they do pose some added risks from sound damage compared to over ear headphone designs. Since they deliver sound directly into the ear canal, earbuds pose a much greater risk of damaging your ears if the volume gets too loud. When you wear them there is nothing between your ears and the sound to protect you. Similar to cotton swabs, earbuds can also push earwax deeper into the ears, causing blockages that affect your hearing. It is largely believed by ear doctors that over-the-ear headphones are a better choice. Over ear designs do not funnel sound directly into your eardrums. They also do not push earwax into your ear canal. Many also feel that over-the-ear headphones are also more comfortable to wear than earbuds - although this is subjective. If you still are concerned about the danger of earbuds, then the simple answer is just to turn the volume down.

Loud concerts can also be bad for your ears and cause prolonged symptoms including tinnitus.  Rock band The Who is credited as having played the loudest measured rock concert in history at 126 decibels. If you are going to attend a loud concert it is a very good idea to bring ear protection to reduce the volume of the sound that your ear drums receive.

Don’t use cotton swabs

It’s important to take care of ears, and cotton ear swabs are good for cleaning your OUTER ear - the part with all the folds including your ear lobes. However, cotton swabs should NOT be used for cleaning inside the ear canal. Cotton swabs are a leading cause of ear injury due to eardrum trauma. When you use a cotton swab you can’t see how close you are to your eardrum so it’s very easy to bump into your eardrum - it’s also quite painful! Additionally, using cotton swabs to clean out earwax can be difficult, sometimes it just results in the earwax being pushed further down your ear canal.

Get your hearing tested regularly

Getting your hearing tested regularly is an integral part of how to take care of the ears. A regular hearing examination will allow you and your hearing care provider to diagnose medical conditions. While most hearing loss is caused by aging, some losses are a result of an underlying medical condition. It could also identify potential problems. Much like a vision test, a yearly hearing test allows you to track changes in your hearing and make adjustments as you need them. A screening can also prevent further damage. When hearing problems are allowed to progress, much more is lost than just the ability to hear. Patients may become depressed, suffer from anxiety in public situations, and become increasingly isolated due to the limitations of their conditions. If a problem is discovered then it’s a good time to start treatment. Identification of a mild hearing problem can actually be a good thing, as it allows you to prevent hearing loss from getting worse. 

Exercise and keep generally healthy

Age related hearing loss is one of the most common kinds of hearing loss, and can affect anyone. As you age, your chances of developing hearing loss increase, since the hair cells in your inner ear don’t work quite like they used to. In fact, over half of seniors over the age of 75 will struggle with hearing loss as the auditory system wears down. A recent study by the University of Florida, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that regular exercise can prevent, or at least significantly slow, age related hearing loss. Researchers looked at the auditory system of mice, comparing mice who exercised with those who didn’t. While active mice had healthy hearing, the mice who didn’t exercise had a lot more damage in their ears.

Limit your stress

While loud noises, like an explosion, certainly can be stressful and damage your hearing, it’s also been documented that other stress triggers, not related to noise, can still harm your hearing.  Essentially, what happens is the overproduction of adrenaline occurring during chronic stress can reduce or even halt blood circulation to the inner ear causing hearing loss over time or even a sudden loss of hearing.

Check your ears with an otoscope

If you are concerned about how to take care of our ears then you should invest in a digital otoscope. ScopeAround brought the first digital otoscope with camera for consumers to the market over five years ago so we have more experience and customer feedback to make the best digital otoscopes available. We make a complete range of digital otoscope products including free-standing models to USB-connected, Lightning cable-connected, and WiFi-connected devices with an otoscope camera app for your mobile device. 


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