Looking after your hearing

Your ears play an important role in helping you to hear what is going on around you; they aren’t difficult to look after and just a little T.L.C. will keep them working better for longer.

What about wax?

Most of us view it as a nuisance but earwax is actually very helpful. Produced by the ear canal, earwax is there to protect the inside of the ear; trapping dust and other particles (dead skin cells, sweat, oil, hairs and dirt) to help prevent infection. The wax then slowly works its way to the outside, taking the trapped dirt and dust with it. Most people produce manageable levels of ear wax and only experience problems if it builds up, causing a sensation of fullness, itchiness or discomfort.

If you feel you have excessive ear wax there are some things you can do – but poking around in your ear is not one of them! Even using a cotton bud is a bad idea as you can push wax deeper into your ear or even damage the skin of your ear canal leading to infection - if you’ve heard the saying ‘you shouldn't put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear', it’s true! The best idea is to get your ears checked out by your GP who’ll be able to tell you if you have a build up of wax. And if you still suspect something isn’t right with your hearing, then get your hearing tested - you can book a free appointment at Boots Hearingcare online or call us on 0845 270 1600.

Noise

Another way you can care for your ears is to protect them from the damaging effects of noise.

What does noise do to my hearing?

Noise is measured in decibels (dB) and the higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. Prolonged exposure to loud noise is one of the main causes of hearing loss and happens when tiny sensory hair cells in our inner ears are damaged by sounds that are too loud or that last for too long. 

How loud is too loud?

Any sound louder than 80 decibels is considered potentially damaging; take a look at the list of common ‘noises’, you may be surprised how often you are exposed to ‘dangerous’ levels.

 Noise Table

A simple indication of whether a noise is too loud is if you have to shout to be heard when someone is two feet away or less.

How can I tell if my hearing’s been affected by noise?

The worrying thing is you can’t always tell if you've been exposed to dangerous levels of noise so it’s best not to take any chances. But if you do experience any of the following symptoms after being in a noisy environment you should get your hearing checked out with a hearing test.

  • Ringing in your ears
  • Dull hearing
  • Pain

How do I stop noise damaging my hearing?

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Where possible, avoid noisy environments. At concerts avoid standing right next to speakers and take regular breaks when you can.

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Turn down the volume

When using earphones or listening to music in a confined space like a car, turn down the volume; if a friend can hear the music from your earphones when standing three feet away, the volume is definitely too high.

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Protect yourself

Sometimes it’s impossible to cut noise out completely but you can minimise damaging effects by wearing hearing protection when exposed to any loud or potentially damaging noise. Examples would be heavy traffic, rock concerts, shooting or in a working environment when using drilling or cutting machinery.

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