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As the seasons turn there are transitions to be managed. Leaves raked, gutters cleared, snow tires installed, and windows buttoned up. Preparations made for the new reality.

The same holds true for one’s hearing health, especially if hearing aids are involved.

Autumn and winter can both bring challenges and risks.

For example, yard prep and dealing with snow often involve using machines that emit sounds loud enough to damage ears. Leaf blowers, woodchippers, and snow blowers all emit not only exhaust fumes, but also noise at over 100 decibels — loud enough to do damage.

So, one thing for the prep list is making sure anyone who will be using these machines has adequate hearing protection. Foam earplugs are good, semi-insert earplugs are better, and earmuffs are best.

Some seasonal activities, such as hunting or attending large sporting events, hold the same risks — and have the same solutions. This is especially true for small children; whose smaller ear canals actually increase the likelihood of hearing damage from exposure to excessive noise.

Then there’s dealing with the cold.

Exposure to the weather increases the likelihood of ear infections, which can negatively affect the ability to hear in the short-term. Unfortunately, bundling the ears up can cause problems too, especially excessive moisture — sweat in this case — which also creates a better environment for infection. It’s best to keep ears warm, but make sure they dry out quickly too. If exposure is a constant part of the new season, then eardrops that help evaporate trapped moisture in the ear canal might be a good investment.

Cold weather can also negatively impact hearing aids. They too will be exposed to more moisture, either directly or from perspiration, so drying them out thoroughly should also be on the seasonal to-do list.

- Associates In Hearing HealthCare
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