(WSPA) – Hearing and balance, two of the main things that ears provide, are not the only reasons to protect your ears.
Dr. Andrew Heffernan, an ear, nose and throat physician, says the best thing you can do to keep your ears healthy is to use protection around loud noises.
“if their job is noisy, they may want to wear your protection for that, certainly if they’re hunting where your protection when they’re using guns or firearms,” Heffernan says.
More than a billion people 12-35 are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational noise exposure. It’s important to catch it early, but besides a hearing test at birth and sometimes in elementary school your doctor likely will not check your hearing at routine checkups.
“Once people are a little bit older, we really rely on the patient to have a complaint of hearing loss, and if you start to have an issue with it, affecting your life negatively and that’s really the time that you should come in for a hearing test.”
If you have ringing in your ears – known as tinnitus – tell your doctor. Up to 20% of people have this problem. It’s not a disease, but Dr. Heffernan says it can be a symptom that something is wrong.
“There’s really no medications that are approved and known to be effective treatments for tinnitus there are some vitamins certain people tried they find somewhat helpful.”
There are some signs of hearing loss.
“It’s family members who urge patients to go be seen because they’re having to ask to repeat themselves often and having trouble hearing in noisy environments,” Dr. Heffernan says.
Another important thing when it comes to ear health – ear wax. You should not stick cotton swabs in the ear canal to clean them.
“That should be limited to cleaning around the very most external portion of the ear, so you can use them just at the opening of that ear canal.”
Dr. Heffernan says the body makes wax for a reason – and it has a purpose.
“It has a function of having some antibacterial, anti-itch properties and also helps keep water, out of the ear to keep your dry so some wax is a good thing.”
If you are experiencing hearing loss or any other problem with your ears, the first step is to reach out to your primary care physician. They can refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if necessary.