Happy couple playing in the leaves.

Fall can be one of the most relaxing seasons of the year. Imagine the birds chirping, the fire crackling, kids laughing on Halloween, and you just sitting back and enjoying it all. Now imagine that you can’t hear those things, or that they are muffled. That doesn’t sound like fun at all. Luckily, if you have problems with your hearing, it may be short-term and caused by things that are easily avoided or fixable. Take these steps to protect your hearing, and enjoy autumn to its fullest.

Avoid Excessive Noise

There is unequivocal evidence showing that exposure to loud noises can lead to short-term hearing loss, and that long-term exposure can turn it into a permanent problem. Loud noises damage the very sensitive parts of your inner ear, and you should do what you can to mitigate the problem.

A one-time very loud sound like an explosion can lead to temporary hearing loss, and while immediate medical attention can help minimize the effects, that’s hard to avoid. Longer exposure to sounds at 85 decibels or higher, however, can also cause hearing loss, and are often easier to avoid.

Heavy traffic comes in at 85 decibels, and sirens come in at 120 decibels. Firecrackers and fireworks can also harm your hearing. Think twice about putting on earbuds and turning up the music, as the sound is even closer to your inner ear. (Unfortunately, there are no exceptions for your favorite song when it comes to earbuds or headphones.)

One of the best things about fall is outdoor events and concerts. The weather is often still beautiful, and you may even be in a park where you can bring a grill and a blanket. Be careful though, if you sit right in front of the speakers you might be hit with a whopping 140 decibels. Even further away the decibel level at concerts is often in the danger zone.

So what should you do? The best thing you can do for yourself is to wear earplugs. You will still be able to hear the music and enjoy the fireworks, just with less potential damage to your hearing. As tempting as it is, try not to keep creeping closer to those speakers as the night goes on.

Wear Ear Muffs & Get Ear Infections Treated

Protecting your ears as the weather gets colder and more blustery is important to avoid infections. You may think of your children and grandchildren when you think of ear infections, but adults get them too. These infections cause fluid to build up in your middle ear, and they lead to inflammation. You may experience fluid draining from your ear, pain and hearing loss.

If you have an ear infection, you should see a doctor right away. It could be a sign of another medical issue and lack of treatment is dangerous not just your hearing but your overall health.

Clean Out Earwax

That pesky earwax may get on your nerves, but it serves the very important purpose of trapping dirt, bugs and debris before they reach your inner ear. Excessive earwax can be a problem though, especially if it blocks your hearing.

The first step in avoiding hearing problems caused by earwax is prevention. You may have spent decades reaching for a cotton swab or some other item to clean wax, but please break that habit. These objects often just push the wax into your ear canal, causing a blockage and hearing loss.

Try cleaning your ears by putting in drops of hydrogen peroxide, or purchasing over-the-counter drops. Let the drops sit for a few minutes, and then tilt your head to let them drain. If you don’t want to clean your ears or are afraid that the blockage is too great, visit a hearing professional. They have special tools to make the job easier.

Ask Your Doctor About Your Medications

If you started a new medication and noticed that you suddenly have a more difficult time hearing, you aren’t imagining things. Certain antibiotics, diuretics, large doses of aspirin, and other drugs can lead to hearing problems.

Take the simple steps above first, gather up your family, and enjoy the beautiful sounds of fall. If you have sudden hearing loss that affects your day-to-day activities, see a hearing professional.