The ears

Noise and hearing

At what point does noise become harmful to the ear ?

Noise is harmful when it damages the auditory system. If noise—measured in decibels—is too loud, it can cause noise-induced hearing loss. In general, noise becomes dangerous at 85 dB. Depending on how long the exposure, symptoms can range from temporary hearing impairment to ringing, buzzing, or drumming sounds in the ear (tinnitus). The more frequently we are exposed to noise, the greater the risk of damage to and premature aging of the auditory system.

Noise levels of 110 dB and higher can cause immediate damage to the ear. Standing in front of the speakers at a concert for just one minute can rupture the eardrum—with the risk of permanent hearing loss.

Learn more: Can noise cause hearing loss?

My ears sometimes ring. Do I have tinnitus ?

Tinnitus is an unpleasant perception of sound within the ear, when there is no actual external sound. It can take the form of ringing, buzzing, or drumming, which can be experienced intermittently, such as after prolonged exposure to loud noise, or chronically. Chronic tinnitus can be caused by noise-induced damage to the inner ear or by aging.

Can noise cause deafness ?

Yes, if the auditory system is damaged by exposure to a very loud noise or repeated exposure to noise. A very loud noise can, for example, rupture the eardrum, resulting in immediate hearing loss. Repeated exposure to noise gradually damages the cells crucial to hearing, and once these cells are damaged they cannot be regenerated.

Should I have my hearing checked once a year ?

No. If you are not experiencing any particular problems, you do not need to have your hearing checked. However, if you are a parent, be sure to have your child’s hearing checked at least once during early childhood.

I don’t hear very well. Should I see a doctor ?

If your hearing loss lasts for more than a few hours, make an appointment to see your family doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist as soon as possible. Only a doctor can get to the root of the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment.

My child has repeated ear infections. Can this cause deafness ?

Some ear infections are hard to detect. Fluid in the middle ear, which is not painful, is one example. If left untreated, ear infections can damage the auditory system and cause hearing loss.

How do I read the noise attenuation ratings on ear protection products ?

Each Quies ear protection product offers a different level of noise attenuation. For example, Quies natural wax earplugs provide noise attenuation of 27 dB.

SNR is the Single Number Rating used to indicate overall noise attenuation; it is the average of all other measurements combined.

SNR (Single Number Rating) 27
H (High Level) 29
M (Medium Level) 23
L (Low Level) 21

The numbers 29, 23, and 21 denote the average noise attenuation in decibels for high (H), medium (M), and low (L) frequencies, respectively.

The following table shows the results of tests on Quies earplugs run by the French National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) according to CEN standard EN 352-2: 2002 (this standard sets forth noise protection device requirements and the testing methods that should be used to check compliance with the standard) :
Frequencies stated in Hertz (Hz): Seven frequencies were tested (from 125 Hz to 8,000 Hz).
Average noise attenuation stated in decibels (dB) :
For example, for a frequency of 125 Hz, noise is reduced by 25.6 dB.
Standard deviation in dB: The difference between the average noise attenuation and Assumed Protection Value (APV).
Assumed Protection Value (APV) in dB: Indicates noise attenuation quality. It is calculated mathematically.

Frequency (Hz) 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000
Average noise attenuation (dB) 25,6 22,5 23,9 25,5 34,7 40,3 39,8
Standard deviation (dB) 4,1 2,9 3,1 4,0 3,3 2,9 4,5
Assumed Protection Value (dB) 21,5 19,6 20,8 21,5 31,4 37,4 35,3

Understanding the ratings
If a device emits noise of 100 dB at a frequency of 1,000 Hz, Quies natural wax earplugs would reduce the noise level by 21.5 dB (the Assumed Protection Value).
The residual noise level of 78.5 dB (100 dB, the original noise level, minus 21.5 dB, the Assumed Protection Value) is less than 85 dB. Therefore, Quies natural wax earplugs would be considered sufficient protection for that particular noise.


Should I clean my ears every day ?

You should clean your outer ear every day. However, when it comes to the ear canal, a fine layer of earwax is needed for protection and should not be cleaned every day. Once or twice a week, you should clean your ear canals using a propellant-free (non-pressurized) ear spray or an appropriate swab. If you do use a swab, do not insert it more than 1 centimeter inside the ear canal to avoid damaging the ear drum. Children should never clean their own ears without adult supervision. Children’s ear canals are shorter than adults’ and the risk of damaging the ear drum is greater.

Are regular cotton swabs harmful to the ear ?

Rubbing your ear canal too vigorously with a cotton swab or inserting a cotton swab too deeply inside your ear canal can injure the skin inside the canal or damage the ear drum. Never insert a cotton swab more than 1 centimeter inside your ear canal (where the earwax-producing glands are located). Twist the swab toward the outside of the ear canal to remove any earwax and avoid packing it deeper into the ear canal.

Choose swabs designed for use inside the ear, and never let children clean their ears without adult supervision. Children’s ear canals are shorter than adults’ and the risk of skin inflammation or damage to the ear drum is greater.

Earwax blockage

Earwax, which our body secretes naturally, lubricates our ear canal and protects it from bacteria and irritants.

Learn more : How do I prevent earwax blockages ?

How do earwax blockages form ?

If earwax is not properly removed from the ear canal, it builds up with dust and dead skin cells and becomes impacted. The result is earwax blockage, with symptoms that can include a perceived loss of hearing, loss of balance, or dizziness. The blockage must be removed using an appropriate method.

Learn more : How do I prevent earwax blockages ?

Do some people produce more earwax than others ?

Yes. The amount and consistency of earwax depends mainly on hereditary factors. A narrow or sharply-angled ear canal can also cause increased earwax production or prevent earwax from being eliminated naturally. Other factors, like the use of a hearing aid, which can irritate the ear canal’s delicate skin, also increase the risk of earwax blockage. Cleaning the ears too frequently can result in increased earwax production.

Learn more : How do I prevent earwax blockages ?

Ear infections

What is an outer ear infection ?

An outer ear infection, also known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the skin of the ear canal. However, this type of infection is not caused by bacteria. It is often due to overly-vigorous or careless cleaning of the external ear canal, failure to properly dry the ears after bathing or swimming, or using poor-quality earphones. The ear canal becomes itchy and irritated. If left untreated, the lesions can get worse, making the itchiness nearly unbearable and leading to a painful infection.

Are ear infections the same in the summer and in the winter ?

No. In the summer, people are more likely to get outer ear infections due to frequent swimming and perspiration. In the winter, bacteria can cause middle ear infections, which often follow on from a common cold.

My child has repeated ear infections. Can this cause deafness ?

Some ear infections are hard to detect. Fluid in the middle ear, which is not painful, is one example. If left untreated, ear infections can damage the auditory system and cause hearing loss.

My child has ear tubes. Can he go in the water ?

For children who have ear tubes, it is important to keep the ears dry to avoid infection. The use of appropriate ear protection is crucial, and should also include a swimmer’s earband for optimal protection.

Air pressure and the ear

Why do my ears hurt during air travel or under water ?

The ear pain is caused by changes in the surrounding air pressure. When you dive into a swimming pool or take off or land in an airplane, the air pressure around you suddenly differs from that inside your ears—causing acute pain or a sensation of blocked ears. This typically lasts until your ears manage to regulate the pressure on each side of the eardrum.

Learn more : Why do air pressure and water hurt my ears ?


Why do people snore ?

Snoring occurs when the muscles and other tissue in the back of the mouth and throat relax, partially blocking the passage of air. When a sleeping person inhales, the tissue of the palate and throat vibrate. The resulting noise is commonly known as snoring. As we age, our tissue loses elasticity, making snoring more common among older people. Other causes of snoring include temporary nasal congestion due to a cold, swollen tonsils, or obesity.

Learn more : Why worry about snoring ?

Is snoring harmful to my health ?

Snoring does not have any long-term health effects unless it is accompanied by
sleep apnea, or interruptions in breathing that increase the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

What is sleep apnea ?

Sleep apnea is characterized as abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. The pauses can last between 10 and 30 seconds. Sleep is disrupted, resulting in tiredness upon waking and daytime sleepiness. The longer-term effects include a higher risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

I snore. Should I see a doctor?

If you don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning or if your snoring is so loud it keeps your family members from getting a good night’s sleep, see your family doctor. If you are sleepy during the day, you could be suffering from sleep apnea, in which case you should see a doctor.

Contact lenses and dry eyes

Why do my eyes get irritated ?

Burning, red, itchy eyes or a gritty sensation in the eyes are symptoms of dry-eye syndrome. The human eye blinks an average of 15 times per minute, nourishing the eye surface with a protective film of tears each time. However, when we wear contact lenses or look at an object like a book or TV screen for prolonged periods, we unconsciously reduce the number of blinks. And the longer the eye stays open between blinks, the less it is lubricated, leading to irritation. To soothe irritated eyes, rest your eyes regularly and lubricate them with physiological serum or artificial tears.

Learn more : Why are my eyes dry ?

My contact lenses tend to irritate my eyes during air travel. Why ?

The air in planes is very dry, making it especially important to use the right drops, such as artificial tears, and to wear glasses instead of contact lenses for flights longer than three hours. And while you are taking care of your eyes, don’t forget your ears! Use earplugs specially designed for air travel to protect your ears from changes in air pressure.

Can I clean my contact lenses with water ?

Water carries bacteria and its pH level is not suitable for our eyes, which are particularly sensitive. Therefore, it is important to clean your contact lenses with an appropriate solution. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to discard any leftover product after the use-by date.

I wear contact lenses. Can I use eye makeup ?

Yes. Just make sure you keep any cosmetics you do use from getting in your eyes, where they can irritate the cornea. Clean your contact lenses with an appropriate solution and put them in before you apply your makeup. Apply makeup on the eyelid and the outside of the eyelashes, being careful to avoid the eye itself. Opt for cream-textured cosmetics, which are less volatile than powders and, therefore, less likely to get into the eyes.