As we move into the winter months, ear infections also increase, usually due to inflammation in the eardrum caused by bacteria or viruses. While ear infections are much more common in children, they can also occur in adults. Inflammation in the inner ear is most commonly caused by a throat infection, cough, flu, allergy symptoms, or another respiratory infection — all of which are more common in the colder months. The infection spreads to the middle ear, causing fluid to build up behind the eardrum. Once your middle ear becomes clogged and air can no longer get through, a wet breeding ground for germs develops.
The symptoms may include:
- Ear pain or discomfort in the ear
- Hearing loss in the affected ear
- Hearing loss from full ear
- Not feeling well
You can take precautions to lower your risk of illness, especially during the winter months when they are more common:
Cold prevention should be practiced
The more often you catch a cold, the more likely you are to develop an ear infection. So make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, especially before touching your mouth or eating, and keep away from sick persons.
clean your nose
The best preventative strategy is probably a daily saline nasal rinse to remove allergens and pollutants from the nasopharynx, the bottom of the nose where the Eustachian tube opens.
Get a flu shot
In addition to preventing the common cold, you should also take precautions to avoid the flu. A reduced risk of getting the flu means there’s less chance of germs traveling to your ears when you’re not feeling well.
Take care of allergy symptoms
Allergies can wreak havoc in the winter, but controlling them will help protect your ear canals from swelling. Oghalai suggests anti-allergy nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasonex.
Provide a clean and dry environment for your ears
Good hygiene can also help with the health of your ears. It may help to use your finger and tissues after bathing. While you’re trying to dry your hair, you can even use a blow dryer.
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