Why do some people get ear pain when flying? It has to do with air pressure. Normally, air pressure in the middle ear space is essentially equal to air pressure in the environment, but with fairly quick changes in air pressure (ascending or descending on planes), the middle ear space isn’t always capable of equalizing as fast.

When ascending, air pressure in the middle ear space is greater than in the cabin of the plane. This causes the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to swell outward. When descending, air pressure in the middle ear space is less than in the cabin of the plane. This causes the ear drum to pull inward, like a vacuum effect.

Whether ascending or descending, the push and pull of the eardrum can cause pain. Additionally, the eardrum is unable to vibrate when it is being stretched, which may cause a muffled sound quality or decrease in hearing. The Eustachian tube is key in helping the middle ear space equalize to outside pressure.

Next month we’ll share some tips on how to alleviate ear pain on airplanes.

In lieu of May 31st being national ‘no tobacco day’, here are some facts about smoking tobacco and your hearing:

  •  Smokers are 70% more likely to get hearing loss than those who do not smoke tobacco
  •  Teens exposed to tobacco smoke are 2 to 3 times more likely to get hearing loss than their counterparts
  •  Nicotine can cause tinnitus, dizziness, and vertigo
  •  Nicotine interferes with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which are responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing
  •  Smoking irritates the Eustachian tube and middle ear lining
  •  Smoking may make you more sensitive to loud noises, resulting in risk of noise-induced hearing loss

Do you or a loved one struggle with hearing loss? Do you often find situations frustrating when there is request for repetition of what was said? Do you ever wonder if this is harder for males or females?

Recent research from Harvard University and Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston suggested that men have more difficulty expressing their hearing loss to others. The study found this may be due to males using fewer actionable suggestions on how to better communicate with them.

 For example, females may communicate their hearing loss by saying, “My hearing is worse on the right side, please sit to my left”, while males might say, “I have hearing issues, so please speak up”. The more specific instructions provided by the woman set up a better communication situation and one that is more likely to be successful for both people involved.

Musicians plugs are custom molds fit to your ears. Their job is to attenuate, or reduce loud music to protect your hearing without losing sound quality of the different instruments/vocalists. These are useful for musicians as well as music lovers. There are 3 different choices for how much sound you can attenuate. The filter level would depend on your lifestyle and the loudness/frequency of being around the music. 

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