Warming the nose is good for the ears


January 19, 1993|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer

Yesterday I saw a jogger with a scarf around his face. H looked silly, but the scarf could help to protect him from developing an earache.

Hard breathing during exercise, especially in cold weather, can causeearaches and even temporary deafness. The symptoms are unlikely to be permanent, but they can be uncomfortable.

A tube, called the Eustachian tube, connects each of your ears to the back of your throat. Cells that line your middle ear produce fluid that flows down the Eustachian tube and into your throat. You automatically, unconsciously swallow the fluid along with your saliva.

Rapid, hard breathing during exercise in cold air can irritate your throat, causing it to swell and block the Eustachian tubes. If that happens, the middle-ear fluid can accumulate, building up to cause pressure and pain. An accumulation of fluid in your ear can impair your hearing by muffling the vibrations of tiny bones in your ears that transmit sounds to your eardrums.

An easy way to prevent this problem is to loosely wrap a woolen scarf around your face to cover your mouth and nose but not your ears. The scarf allows you to breathe warm, moist air, which keeps your throat from becoming irritated while you exercise.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

United Feature Syndicate

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