By Michele Robert Poche

They help us to communicate and learn. They soothe us with familiar voices and sounds. They maintain our sense of physical balance, and they warn us when danger is near. There’s no doubt that properly functioning ears enrich the quality of life. So, what can we do to keep our children’s ears healthy and fully operational?

Don’t insert anything into the ear canal. Fingers, pencils and cotton swabs have no place inside the ear. The ear is self-cleaning, and its wax serves the purpose of keeping all foreign matter from entering it. If you’re concerned that something is lodged within, seek medical help immediately.

Maintain healthy noise levels. Allowing a child to listen habitually to loud music, video games or other noise via headphones or speakers can cause hearing damage. If you need to shout to be heard over the noise, turn it down. Also, try to balance the loud time with some quiet time and rest for the ears.

Protect from burns and injury. Because they protrude from the head and often poke through the hair, ears are very vulnerable to sunburn. Don’t forget sunscreen or a hat on sunny days. Also, when participating in physical activity, like cycling or contact sports, wear a helmet. Concussions can damage hearing.

Keep ears dry.
Outer ear infections, such as swimmer’s ear, develop when water gets trapped in the ear canal. Safeguard
against this painful problem by tilting the head to each side and shaking a few seconds to expel the water. If prone to this problem, use earplugs while swimming and preventative drying drops when getting out of the water.

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