Winter is here, and the temperatures are dropping. Along with snow, ice, and low temperatures come excessive earwax production. Earwax is a natural part of your body’s defenses, and by trapping dirt, it cleans and protects your ear while slowing the growth of bacteria. A blockage often occurs when earwax accumulates in your ears or becomes too hard to wash out easily.
The signs and symptoms of earwax blockage include the following:
- A feeling of fullness in the affected ear
- Ringing or noises in the ear which is known as tinnitus
- Decreased hearing in the affected ear
- A cough
Cold Weather and Earwax
A hearing loss can occur due to genetic causes, listening to loud noises for extended periods of time, aging, and physical damage to the ear. Cold weather can also affect your ability to hear. Cold temperature increases the risk of rogue bones growing in your ears along with hardening of earwax. This bone growth in your ears is known as exostosis or surfer’s ear because surfers spend a great deal of time in cold water. Frigid weather can also result in the hardening of earwax. Hardening of earwax is another way that the body tries to protect the ear canal from freezing temperatures. The hardened earwax becomes trapped in the ear resulting in hearing loss, ringing in the ears and other symptoms.
Safe Earwax Removal
- Try to avoid overcleaning your ears because it can irritate the ear canal and may even cause an infection.
- Avoid the use of ear candles. Not only is there no proof that these candles remove earwax, but they may also damage your ear canal and eardrum.
- Do not stick foreign objects in your ears. Cotton swabs, toothpicks, and hairpins are capable of cutting your ear canal and eardrum. A dislocation of hearing bones is also possible which can lead to dizziness, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss.
- You may want to soak a cloth in hot water, let it absorb, place it in a container and hold it over your ear allowing the steam from the cup soften up hard wax.
- Try putting warm olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt water, or baking soda in your ear. Place the solution in your ear, lay on your opposite side and allow the solution to soak in. The impacted wax will loosen up and either come out on its own or be quickly flushed out by a medical professional.
- You can place hot packs and warm towels over your ear for pain relief.
Time to See a Professional
If home remedies do not loosen the hardened earwax, you may need to see a hearing healthcare specialist to suction your ear or remove the blockage with a curette or other instrument. Once you have experienced an earwax blockage, there is no guarantee that it will not return. You may have to treat an earwax blockage several times throughout your life. However, earwax blockage is only a temporary issue, and your symptoms should disappear after you manage the condition.
Cold weather can affect your hearing. Surfer’s ear and hardening of earwax are common ear conditions when the weather is frigid. Try the home remedies above or make an appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist if your symptoms persist. So stay warm and protect your hearing during these cold winter months.