How The Freezing Wintery Weather Can Harm Your Ears

Ear wax removal - woman wearing winter clothe

News that parts of the UK have just experienced their coldest November night in 13 years will have got a lot of people thinking about what sort of winter lies ahead. For all the talk of 2023 being the world’s hottest year on record, the next few months might bring something very different in Britain.

There may also be many mild spells to come, of course, but the chances are that for at least some of the time, the weather will be at or close to freezing, which means all but the most brave, robust, or unwise will wrap up warm when venturing out.

While some may be worried about the general effects of the cold or the risks of slips and trips, it is worth thinking about your ears, as there are various ways in which very cold weather can affect your audio health.

A 2019 article by Deaf Unity highlighted many of these, noting how everything from the function of hearing aids to your level of ear wax can be affected by cold weather.

In the case of earwax, it is important to note that this is produced by your ears for their own protection against infection and foreign bodies. There is also an insulating aspect to the substance, as it helps protect the inner ear from excessive cold. That is why a plunging temperature will prompt your ears to generate more of it.

For that reason, it is worth getting checked out if you feel there is a build-up of wax over the winter. You won’t be imagining it and if you need earwax removal, it is wise to seek that as soon as you can to avoid having unnecessary hearing issues.

The cold can also affect your hearing in other ways too. For instance, excess cold can restrict the blood flow to your ears, making them more prone to infections, while cold and moisture can impede the function of hearing aids.

While you should certainly make sure you get any ear problems treated and have your hearing aids repaired or replaced if they are not working due to cold weather damage, prevention is always better than cure.

That means wrapping up warm with things like a woolly hat and earmuffs to specifically keep your ears warm and dry, while other warm clothing will help maintain your general body temperature.

Other things you can do include eating healthily and exercising well, as these can ensure you have good circulation and thus reduce the risks of ear infection.

People’s attitudes to the cold weather do vary, of course; while some will stay indoors and keep warm, others like to get outside and enjoy the scenery and even take part in winter sports. Those who do, however, should be aware of the risks of excessive ear exposure to cold weather.

Whatever your approach to the season, you mustn’t wait until spring to ensure your ears are in good health. If wax is a problem, you will be wise to brave the cold weather for a while to go and see a clinician to get it removed.