Our ears are something we often take for granted, yet ear pain can have a real impact on our everyday life - especially in the workplace. Research from the ear experts, Earex, reveals that over 4.5 million sick days are taken because of ear issues, with 1 in 5 recognising their performance, memory or confidence took a dive in line with their ear-related problems.
Here's how to keep your ears in good health:
Use eardrops to dissolve impacted wax
The number one cause of earache is earwax build up, which affects over one third of ear pain sufferers. Ear wax is important for ear health as it helps to protect the lining of the ears. After it is produced, it slowly makes its way to the opening of the ear where it either falls out or is removed when you wash. However, too much wax can sometimes build up, causing mild hearing loss, known as conductive deafness, as sounds can't pass freely through the ear canal because of a blockage. Olive oil is often recommended, and although it's not as effective as some other drops, it can soften wax prior to the ears being syringed. Earex Olive Oil Ear Drops can be very effective here too. There's an old saying: 'Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear' and it's true! You can easily hurt your ear by poking around in them, even with cotton buds as these can push wax deeper into your ear or even irritate the ear canal causing an infection. Never put anything sharp in your ear because it can cause bleeding or serious damage.
Try to keep your ears dry
'Swimmer's ear' - more correctly called otitis externa - is a condition that affects more than 1% of the UK population every year. It is given this nickname because it can be caused by water getting into the ear canal - the tube between the outer ear and the eardrum - and so is more common in swimmers. Other causes include infection and allergic reactions but it can also occur for no obvious reason. Although anyone of any age can get it, women appear to suffer slightly more than men. As well as swimming, other factors triggering it include excessive ear cleaning or overuse of ear piece headphones, as can pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema, acne or psoriasis. The general advice is to always avoid getting the affected ear wet, and resist the temptation to use cotton wool buds inside the ear or pushing a towel into them. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eardrops by your doctor.
Try to avoid flying when you have a cold
'Aeroplane ear' is the term given to pain in the ears that occurs during take-off and landing, and is due to unequal air pressure inside the ear in comparison to the atmosphere outside, due to blockage of the Eustachian tube. This can be very painful, so keep Earex Pain Relief Ear Spray to hand to help soothe, calm and reduce the pain. Not equalising pressure in the ears on planes is called barotitis and is usually more of a problem when landing than taking off. Try to chew, yawn or swallow as this helps to equalise pressure when landing and if you have to fly when you have a head cold try taking an oral decongestant before flying. Don't let your child remain asleep during landings, and don't worry too much if they have mild ear discomfort when landing as this is due to the pressure equalising.
Dr Roger Henderson is working with Earex to help educate people on how to maintain good ear health and avoid common problems.