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Health Chatter: How to look after your hearing

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Imagine all the activities you do that require good hearing - listening to music, talking with friends and colleagues, listening to transport announcements…

Now imagine how you would feel in these situations if you are struggling to hear… Frustrated? Saddened? Isolated?

How to look after your ears and hearing

Turn the volume down

  • When using headphones, the volume should be kept at less than 60%. Restrict listening through headphones at this volume to no more than 60 mins a day.

  • Opt for over-the-ear headphones as opposed to earbuds.

  • In work, use earplugs and ear defenders provided for you in your workplace. Make sure that the protection you use is clean and fit for the purpose e.g. the seals aren’t damaged on defenders.

  • Attend regular hearing tests provided by your employer to monitor your hearing

Give your ears time to recover

  • If you have been exposed to loud noise, e.g. at a concert, 16 hrs recovery time is recommended before exposing yourself to loud noises again.

Stop using cotton swabs in your ears

  • Ears generally clean themselves and some wax in your ears is desirable as it stops dust and other particles from entering the canal. Twizzling a cotton bud in your ear canal also risks damaging your ear drum if you insert it too far or too hard.

  • If you think you have excess wax, you can gently clean around the canal with a damp towel or ask your pharmacist for an ear wax removal solution to use to soften the wax so that it is able to flow out on its own.

  • If this doesn’t do the trick, seek professional advice.

Keep your ears dry

  • Take care to towel dry your ears after bathing or swimming as excess moisture can cause bacteria to grow in the ear canal and set up an infection.

Infections: Consult your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Pain in the ear

  • Discharge

  • Dizziness / problems with your balance

  • Hissing, buzzing or ringing noises in your ear (tinnitus)

  • Temporary or sudden hearing loss

About hearing loss

Hearing loss can affect your employment, your education, your family life and your social life.

Our hearing naturally deteriorates as we get older, but today more people are suffering a greater degree of hearing loss than expected for their age. Yet, half of all hearing loss is avoidable.

Hearing loss is linked to the length of time and how often you are exposed to loud noise. The longer and more frequent the exposure, the more likely it is that you will develop hearing loss.

The most common sources of loud noise that we encounter day to day are:

  • Personal - use of audio devices at high volumes

  • Social - concerts, nightclubs, bars and sporting events

  • Work - machinery, equipment e.g. chainsaws, jack hammers

The reason our hearing is affected is because vital tiny hairs cells in our inner ear get damaged with repeated exposure to loud noise and eventually become unable to convert sound into the nerve signals that go to the brain.

If you have been struggling to hear recently, you may need a hearing test. You could ask your GP to refer you for a check, or there may be some High Street opticians that also offer a free check. Our sources and for more information:


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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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