4 Ways To Protect Your Hearing During Winter

This blog post has been reviewed and approved by a hearing care professional.

Have you ever wondered how to protect your hearing during the winter? It is a time of year when the cold makes you bundle up in a coat, boots, and gloves whenever you leave the house. However, many of us forget to protect our ears when we step outside into the bitter cold temperatures. Part of the problem is that many people do not realize the importance of protecting your ears during the cold winter months. 

Ears are particularly vulnerable to cold weather because they don’t have the same layer of fat that insulates the rest of the body. The nerves in our ears are more exposed to damage from subzero temperatures. This is why our ears are one of the first parts of our body to feel cold, and painful after longer exposure without protection.

Did you know that an ear infection can be caused by bacteria in the upper respiratory system traveling up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear? During the winter we spend more time indoors and in closer proximity to others. This can increase the likelihood of picking up an illness such as the flu or a common cold. If you think you are experiencing an ear infection, we recommend that you visit your family doctor.

If you want to protect your hearing during the winter from cold temperatures or common illnesses, here are four tips you should follow.

Tip #1: Wear Ear Protection
When the temperature outside is below zero, make sure to keep your ears warm and dry with proper protection. Most of the time, you can achieve this by wearing a toque, earmuffs, scarf or any other type of warming material that covers your ears. You should also minimize the amount of time you spend outside, where possible.
Tip #2: Protect Your Ears from Loud Winter Noises
A snow blower can exceed 90 decibels1 which is above the safe level of sound for noise exposure. Sound exposure above 85 dBA may require hearing protection, to avoid potential hearing loss. If you need to operate a snowblower make sure to wear proper earplugs to help protect your hearing. If you spend a lot of time in loud environments, you may want to consider getting custom earplugs to help protect your ears.
Tip #3: Take Extra Care of Your Hearing Aids

Cold temperatures can drain the battery of your hearing aids faster than usual. It is a good idea to pay extra attention to the charge on your hearing during the winter and keep a few extra pairs of batteries in a warm, dry place if your hearing aids aren’t rechargeable.

The cold temperature can also allow moisture to build up on your hearing aids. You can keep your hearing aids warm and dry by wearing a hat and you can also place them in a dehumidifier to remove any excess moisture.

Tip #4: Beware of Exostosis
If you are exposed to extreme cold and wet weather for too long you are at greater risk of developing exostosis. Exostosis is a rare condition where your body increases bone growth in the ear canal to block out the cold. The growth can cause the ear canal to be blocked, which increases the risk of ear infections due to liquid being trapped inside. To avoid exostosis, make sure to keep your ears protected from the cold when taking part in outdoor winter activities.
While the winter can pose added risk to your hearing, it does not have to be difficult to protect yourself. Wearing a toque or earmuffs to keep your ears warm, wearing earplugs when operating loud snowblowers, stay on top of your hearing aid maintenance, and avoid extreme cold as much as possible. Those are the four most effective ways to protect your hearing during the winter.

Can Allergies Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?

Allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to a foreign substance in your environment. Therefore, allergies can lead to allergy-related hearing loss and tinnitus.

Can Headphones Damage Your Hearing?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 50% of people ages 12 to 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds through headphones. 

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1 Roberts, Catherine. “How to Protect Your Hearing When Using Outdoor Power Equipment.” Consumer Reports. January 10, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2022.   https://www.consumerreports.org/hearing-ear-care/how-to-protect-your-hearing-when-using-outdoor-power-equipment/