By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services
We do not always think about taking care of our ears, but proper ear care can prevent common ear problems.
Taking care of your ears includes cleaning, preventing and treating infections, taking steps to avoid unnecessary noise and watching for possible hearing loss.
Did you know there is a right way to clean your ears? Here are a few ear hygiene tips:
- Clean your ears with extra care. Do not clean your ears with anything smaller than a washcloth on your finger. Don’t use cotton swabs, bobby pins, your keys or any sharp, pointed objects to clean your ears. These objects may injure the ear canal or eardrum. If the ear canal is scratched, it often often lead to swelling and an infection called otitis externa. This can cause extreme pain and damage to the eardrum.
- You also can get infections in your ear canal. Moisture in the ear canal can promote bacteria to grow there. One of the most common infections is swimmer’s ear. The best way to protect against these infections is by keeping your ears dry. After showering or swimming, use a towel to dry your ears.
- Earwax is the ear’s way of cleaning itself. If you have a buildup of wax that is blocking your hearing, see a health care provider to have it removed. Do not try to remove it on your own.
- To clean your outer ear, simply use water, a gentle soap and a washcloth. You also can use a cotton swab to run in the curves of your upper ear — just do not stick them in your ear canal. Use the washcloth to wipe above and behind your ear.
- If you experience itching or pain in your ears, see a health care provider so they can investigate your ear with an otoscope and determine the cause of the pain or itching. Many times, it can be a sign of infection, allergies or even injury.
- If you have pierced ears, clean your earrings and earlobes regularly with rubbing alcohol.
If you will be flying this holiday season, swallow and yawn frequently when the plane is coming down to equalize pressure in your ears. If you have an upper respiratory problem such as a cold or sinus infection, take a decongestant a few hours before landing and/or use a decongestant spray just before descending and on landing.
Because of the ways that our bodies are connected, certain illnesses – such as an upper respiratory infection – can make ear infections or hearing loss more likely.
In addition, your ears can …….