October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. Did you know hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States?

According to the American Academy of Audiology, approximately 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss with more than half being under the age of 65.

 How can you tell if you have hearing loss? Here are a few signs to watch for:

You wake up with that pain, swelling and redness. You know immediately what it is —an earache. Yes, it's painful and annoying, but there is good news: Earaches usually clear up after a few days and many don’t require a visit to the doctor.

More good news: There are some safe home remedies you can use to relieve pain and clear up an earache. A word of warning, though: You’ll notice these remedies do not involve putting anything (other than ear drops) in your ear. If you find a home remedy that does, check with your doctor before trying it to avoid damaging your ears.

Use ear drops. Three to 5 drops a day can help fight infection, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle.

Drain your ears. You can do this in a variety of ways. Try eating spicy food, drinking lots of water, gargling with salt water, or propping your head up with a few extra pillows.

ear candle-webContrary to its bad reputation, earwax (or cerumen), is actually very beneficial to your ears. It acts as a natural cleanser, removing debris as it moves out of the ear. It also contains both antibacterial and antifungal properties. However, when your ears produce too much cerumen, your ear canal can become clogged, which can result in earaches, infections and even hearing loss.

If your ears become plugged, going to a physician or audiologist is far safer than attempting to treat it on your own.

Using cotton tipped applicators can result in further impaction or even a ruptured ear drum.

backyard bbqSummer is in full swing. You can feel it in the warm air and smell it in the breeze. But for many people, summer is most easily identified by certain sounds.

The song of the cicadas. Children laughing while splashing in water. The hum of the mower as neighbors tend to their lawns. Voices of family and friends at a backyard barbeque. Music at an outdoor concert.

It’s officially summer!

Studies show that people spend up to 63% more time outside during the warmer months. No surprise, really.

But you may not have considered one of the dangers of the summer season. Between lawnmowers, loud graduation parties, outdoor concerts and fireworks displays, your ears are subjected to many potentially damaging sounds during this time of year. Any noise above 85 decibels is considered dangerous. Look at how loud these common summertime sounds are: