Ah, the chill in the air, the fall colors, hayrides, pumpkin patches! It’s a great time of year, autumn. Soon we’ll be pulling out the scarves and mittens to keep warm. Don’t forget the earmuffs and hats! Fall weather means lower temperatures, which can have an effect on different parts of your body, including your ears. Also, some people experience seasonal allergies in the fall. Let’s look at fall weather and ear health.

Ears are vulnerable to weather

Because your ears have no protective fat tissue, they can cool down quickly. At 59 degrees, blood vessels begin to constrict to consolidate warmth, and your ears become susceptible to the cold. Have you ever felt a pain in your ear canal during cold weather? That’s because there is just a thin layer of skin protecting the nerves in the ear canal. Keeping your ears covered during cool weather prevents a reduction of blood flow.

Seasonal allergies and your hearing

Many people experience allergies in the fall, most commonly hay fever. Allergy symptoms may include fullness in the ear, temporary difficulty hearing or itchy ears. These symptoms usually can be treated with over-the-counter medicines.

A sometimes more serious problem involves dizziness (vertigo) or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Some people experience these symptoms due to seasonal allergies. Others may have health problems that can become worse due to allergies. Your audiologist can determine if the symptoms are due to allergies or other issues.

Know your symptoms

While colds and flu may be more common during the winter months, they also arrive in the fall. Symptoms are similar to allergies, but sometimes, stuffy ears can lead to conductive hearing loss, which is a temporary loss of hearing due to pressure or increased fluid in the middle ear.

Protect your hearing outdoors

Football games, leaf blowers, hunting activities all involve noise, and noise affects ear health. It’s important to consider ear protection when taking part in these activities, or any event where you’re exposed to noise levels that may be greater than 80 decibels (dB), which is about as loud as a dial tone or a garbage disposal. Foam earplugs can reduce noise at a football game while specialized earmuffs can shield your ears from the leaf blower or weed trimmer.

Use common sense

A few more obvious tips to keep your ears healthy in the fall – be sure your ears are dry before going outside, especially if it’s windy. Don’t use cotton balls to protect your ear canal from the wind. Cotton can scratch your ears and won’t protect your outer ear.

Hearing aid wearers will want to keep some spare batteries close by. Cooler weather can be a challenge because batteries may drain faster.

Autumn is filled with fun outdoor activities. Keep your ears healthy with just a few simple precautions so you can enjoy the season.