How To Take Care Of Your Ears While On Your Travels
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After the events and restrictions placed on individuals over the past 2 years, the chance to travel and explore the world once again is something that everyone should be able to look forward to, without the worry or concern that the debilitating symptoms associated with tinnitus could compromise a trip.
Katie Ogden, the Training Manager of ReSound North-West Europe, gives her expert advice on how best to take care of your ears while on your travels, in order to prevent exacerbating any tinnitus symptoms further.
When a plane is taking off, the noise in the cabin on the plane can be as high as 105 decibels, with sound over 70 decibels able to cause damage to hearing. That’s why it’s recommended that you take the following measures to protect your ears.
Sit at the front of the plane
- One way to protect your hearing is to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible, as any seats positioned before the plane’s wings are further away from the engines and the elements of the plane that will generate the most noise throughout the flight.
- Noise cancelling headphones are another great way to protect the delicate parts of the inner ear during a flight from the engine noise. They’re also good for blocking out general noise from other passengers on board too, if you want to shut off and relax during the journey.
Yawning, swallowing or sucking on boiled sweets
- The classic piece of advice given to anyone who struggles with pressure in their ears during flights - but it does surprisingly work.
Aeroplane ear (that feeling of your ears popping) occurs when the air pressure inside of the ear and the pressure outside are not the same, preventing the eardrum from vibrating normally. The eustachian tube which regulates air pressure in the ear can’t usually react fast enough, but by yawning, swallowing or sucking a boiled sweet, the tube opens and allows the middle ear to receive a larger amount of air.
Whether it’s a dip in the pool on holiday, or swimming in the ocean, if you suffer from tinnitus it’s always best to protect your ears around bodies of water. Bacteria can get enter the ears and cause infections known as Swimmer's Ear (or more formally as Otitis Externa) that can worsen symptoms.
- In order to not exacerbate your symptoms, wearing earplugs is a simple and easy solution to protect your ears for when you go swimming. By wearing earplugs no water will be able to penetrate the ear canal and you will eliminate the chance of infection or your tinnitus symptoms worsening.
Those who are known to suffer from recurring ear infections or have a known perforation to their eardrums should try to use swim plugs every time they are in the water.
If you’re travelling to a destination where the air pressure is high like a ski resort, or mountainous regions, it’s important to consider the impact the change in altitude can have on your ears.
Significant changes in air pressure at higher elevations can cause stress to the inner ear and eardrum, known as Ear Barotrauma. This happens when the eustachian tube becomes blocked, causing discomfort and pain within the ears that can cause hearing changes and could potentially worsen tinnitus symptoms.
– One of the most significant ways you can avoid damage to your ears when visiting a location with barometric pressure changes, is to ascend to the destination slowly. Instead of heading straight to your stopping place, take breaks along the route to allow your ears to adjust slowly.
Whether you’re visiting a windy location or embarking on a cycling holiday where wind will hit the ears at speed, it’s important to always use ear protection, as loud wind noise can cause tinnitus to flare up.
- Using earplugs is a great way to protect your ears from excessive wind noise, and can significantly lower the noise level of sound entering the ears from high-speed winds. Whilst many people might not consider the impact of wind exposure on their ears, for example, the average cyclist travelling at the standard 15mph can experience wind noise of 85 A-weighted decibels.
If you’re heading to a cold location for your next holiday, don’t forget to consider your ears when you wrap up warm. When visiting a cold climate, your ears naturally produce more wax as a way to protect the inside of your ears from the lower temperature. However, for tinnitus sufferers, excess ear wax can be problematic, as blockages in the ear canal muffle noise and can make the tinnitus more noticeable.
Earmuffs or a hat
- One way to help prevent any excess wax from building up within the ears is to keep your ears warm. This can be done using earmuffs or a hat to cover the entrances to the ear and prevent the cold from entering the ear canal.