In the spring, do you notice a change in your hearing or a feeling of fullness in the ears and the need to make them pop? Have you ever wondered about the role of the weather and seasonal allergies in hearing and balance? When it comes to warm, wet weather, are there care tips to extend the life of your hearing devices?
Hearing Like Me answers these questions and more by taking a look at spring weather, allergies, and hearing aid maintenance.
We all seem to be experiencing erratic weather this spring: hot and sunny one day, rain and hail the next. This results in sudden changes in barometric pressure (the pressure caused by the weight of the air above us). A sudden drop in barometric pressure can cause discomfort in the ears because the pressure outside changes faster than inside. This is what causes ears to feel full or pop.
In spring, if you are allergic to tree pollen, your immune system will be busy producing antibodies called histamine. Unfortunately, histamine increases the production of mucus, which is why hay fever sufferers experience runny noses. However, allergies can also affect your eustachian tubes, making them narrower and more susceptible to being blocked by fluid or wax. Like a sudden drop in barometric pressure, this causes a feeling of fullness in the ear. Allergies may also cause itchy ears, sinus pain, and exacerbate hearing difficulties. Talk to your health care professional about the possible benefits of antihistamines and nasal sprays.
“Allergies may also cause itchy ears, sinus pain, and exacerbate hearing difficulties.”
Fluid build-up can also cause ear infections and temporary conductive hearing loss. Ongoing pressure issues in the middle ear may cause permanent hearing loss. It is important to get checked out by a hearing care professional if your ear feels full.
If you use hearing aids, wet or humid weather can cause problems. Be aware of the issues and how to overcome or avoid them.
In spring and summer, you should keep checking the microphone ports on your hearing devices as they can get blocked with allergens. At this time of year, high humidity can damage the internal processing chip inside a hearing aid. Moisture can also collect inside hearing aid tubes, so they need extra care and may need to be replaced more frequently.
If you have in-the-ear (ITE) or receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids, you will no doubt be aware that perspiration can build up when using them. If this happens daily and the devices aren’t properly dried each night, this can lead to corrosion. Exposure to moisture is one of the main reasons for expensive repairs. Corrosion and damaged connections can cause crackling sounds, intermittent outages, fluctuations in volume, or sound distortion. If this happens, don’t ignore it. See your hearing aid provider immediately.
Hearing aid batteries can also be damaged by moisture. When you’re not using your devices, don’t forget to open the battery door to take the batteries out and let any condensation evaporate.
To prevent problems caused by moisture, always store your hearing aids in a cool, dry place. Better still, use a dehumidifying dry box overnight. The UV-C light in the Phonak D-Dry+ reduces the accumulation of germs and the risk of skin infections in and around the ear.