How To Protect Your Ears, Nose, and Eyes From Winter Weather
We all like to cozy up to a roaring fire when the “weather outside is frightful.” If you live in an area that receives bitterly cold weather, you either love the snow and everything that goes with it, or you count the days until spring returns. Bottom line is, you can’t change the weather. However, you can learn how to protect your ears, nose, and eyes from winter’s arrival.
Winter Weather and Humidity
Winter brings with it cold, drying winds outside, indoor forced air heating, fireplaces, and riding in cars with the hot dry air blowing in our faces and eyes. We just want to stay warm, right? Unfortunately, all of these things can be detrimental to our eyes, ears, nose and body in general.
For many of us, our eyes and nasal passages suffer the most. To remain healthy, our eyes need moisture, which they sure won’t be getting much of in the winter season unless we do something about it.
In addition, dry air causes irritation and reduces normal nasal secretions that help to wash away debris and dirt. An imbalance in nasal secretions is what normally leads to the outbreak of sinus infections that everyone seems to succumb to each time winter weather starts to come around.
In general, there are a number of things we can do to combat the dry air:
- Purchase a humidifier. Even if your home already has a built-in system, it is still helpful to put a portable humidifier in the bedroom and another one in common areas like the living room. Make sure to keep your humidifiers clean to avoid mold. Your eyes, nasal passages, and your skin will thank you.
- Use moisture drops in your eyes during the day. Find an OTC brand that you like, and use an ointment at bedtime to keep those eyes moisturized all night long. Just slip a little of the ointment inside your lower lid right before bed to keep your eyes hydrated throughout the night.
- Take warm showers instead of using hot water to help prevent drying out your skin. Keep the bathroom door closed to capture the steam and moisture. This will also give your nasal passages a little reprieve. It is also advised to apply a moisturizer all over after patting your skin dry.
- Use a HEPA filter for heating your home, and another one in your vacuum to capture the debris in the air.
Winter Weather and Our Ears
Just because you seem to get ear infections during the winter, it doesn’t mean they are triggered by the cold weather. Instead, they are caused by bacteria that migrate from the Eustachian tube, which connects the upper respiratory system and the ear, causing a middle ear infection.
The cold air can make these types of ear infections seem more painful. Be especially careful if you notice your children getting recurring ear infections, as these can lead to hearing loss.
Cold temperatures can also lead to physical changes in the ear. A common condition known as “surfers ear” or Exostosis, occurs when a bone grows abnormally in the ear canal. Exostosis can cause hearing issues, tinnitus, and increased risk of infection. Prevent ear pain and infection during the winter by keeping your ears covered with a warm beanie or hat, earmuffs, and/or a hoodie.
If you will be spending time outside shoveling snow, hiking, or playing sports it is important to protect your face with a thermal face shield. Wrap around goggles are a good choice to protect your eyes also.
General Precautions During The Winter
Avoid the common cold by washing your hands frequently and avoid touching common surfaces. Many grocery stores have wipes available to use on the cart handles. Consider carrying wipes with you to clean surfaces at work and while running other errands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth during the day.
If uncomfortable ear, nose, or eye symptoms do not improve within a matter of days, contact Georgetown ENT at (512) 869-0604 immediately to set up an appointment.