Category Archives: Ears



Ears need rest and quiet time this holiday season!

Make the most of your time together this season by hearing your absolute best!  Noisy malls, busy restaurants and even the holiday music can be too much to handle in the coming weeks. Even our ears need to rest!   Take a quiet break to prevent ear fatigue.  Limit phone time, TV time and music time.

Rest is important to be able to focus and understand others.  As you prepare for the holidays,  get plenty of sleep and allow for “quiet time”.  It takes extra energy and concentration to follow conversations in holiday settings.  This can make us extremely tired.

Rest your ears

Rest your ears

When our brain is fatigued – we are unable to focus and make good conversation.   This causes brain overload and ear fatigue. We are thinking, ‘I’m exhausted and I just want to get out of here.’  That will not result in good conversation. You’re better off taking a break and resting your ears.

3 Tips to Remember:

  •  Minimize the total sound you are exposed   to before a visit or activity.  (Remove earphones, limit tool use and loud exercise classes).
  •  Plan for daily quiet breaks such as a walk, reading or nap.
  •  Limit yourself to one “activity” per day. Try not to go to several occasions on the same day.   Allow your ears to be rested and sharp!

Communicating is exhausting – so take time out for your ears to do their job!

If you’re looking to maintain current hearing or improve communication with better hearing contact our Audiologist for more thoughts on preventing ear fatigue.

Right Ear, Left Ear – What’s the Difference?


Right Ear Best for Speech – Left Ear Best for Music!

Each ear has a function! Each side of the brain handle functions differently.  In fact the right and left ears process and

Right ear,Left Ear:  What's the Difference?

Right Ear, Left Ear: What’s the Difference?

handle types of sound differently.  The right ear is generally better for interpreting speech, while the left ear is better for interpreting music.

It has to do with how our brains process information. Although the left and right sides of the brain are similar, they have different functions. Sounds that enter into our RIGHT ear cross over to the left side of the brain which is the analytical part of the brain.  It is better at following rapid rhythms of speech.

The LEFT ear dominates in following prolonged tones such as in music. Sounds that enter into our left ear cross over to the right brain – which is the creative and emotional side of the brain. This is why music often evokes an emotional response.

Can’t comprehend someone in a crowded room?  Lean in with your RIGHT ear!  It sends messages to your left brain which is better at analyzing speech patterns.

Want to pick out the lyrics of a new song:?  Listen with your LEFT ear!  It sends messages to your right brain which is better at analyzing music.

Bottom line:  Use your RIGHT ear for voices and your LEFT ear for music.

Want to dig deeper into how your brain hears?  Contact our Audiologist who coaches individuals for accurate hearing in their careers at meetings, group conferences and noisy restaurants.


Airplanes and Ears


Airplane Effect Ears

Airplane travel increases in the summertime and many will notice its effect on their ears.  Have you ever noticed the following when flying:

Airplanes and Ears

Difficulty hearing on board:  It’s hard to hear on an airplane and requires extra focus to communicate with flight attendants, traveling companions or nearby passengers.

Ringing ears / muffled hearing:  You may notice that your ears “ring” or “hum” after an airplane flight.  Often your hearing may also be a little muffled.

Mental fatigue:  You will notice that you are less able to “focus” and “process” incoming information after airplane travel.  You may often feel overstimulated as well.

What Causes This?

Noise exposure to loud levels of noise on board an airplane can cause you to experience this. Here is why:

Difficulty hearing on board:  Noise levels on a plane vary due to plane size, number of engines and location of seating.  The cabin noise is much louder than average speech levels.  As a result, the noise overpowers individual voices – especially those that are soft or high-pitched.  (Average cabin noise levels are between 80-90 dB.)

Ringing ears / muffled hearing:  Sounds that are louder than 85 dB are hazardous to hearing. Many airplane’s cabins are in this hazardous zone.  Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and muffled hearing are classic signs of overexposure to loud sound.  Most of the time these signs will go away but if it happens repeatedly, it may not.

Mental fatigue:  Noise has a negative impact on our overall health by adding mental stress and increasing distortion in the ear – creating a heavier “load” on the brain.

What to Do?

Pack and keep an EXTRA set of hearing protection in your carry on!

Foam earplugs are the simplest and cheapest and can be found in most drug stores and airport kiosks in case you forget!

Noise-cancelling headphones help to reduce the environmental sounds around you – which is especially helpful on an airplane.  Helps you to tune out the sounds you don’t want to hear.

Custom earplugs provide great protection and are comfortable for longer wear and longer airplane flights.  Often can replace your media earbuds!

Choose an option that works well and is easy to use!  If comfort is an issue – contact us to discuss custom earplug options for travel!

Other Airplane Effects on Ears

Muffled hearing / ear popping:  Many of us have difficulty equalizing pressure during an airplane flight.  This can be due to ear structure, allergies and congestion from colds or flu. Ear popping, muffled hearing and occasional pain can result until the ear equalizes pressure through the Eustachian tube.  These signs usually will go away but can sometimes continue after airplane travel and may require medical attention.

Consider trial of EarPlanes pressure regulating earplugs which can be found at most drug stores.  They are special ear plugs with tiny valves that help with ear pressure discomfort.  They can be worn before airplane takeoff and removed after landing.


Custom Swim Ear Plugs


Swim Ear Plugs for all Water Fun!

Summer is here!  Waterproof ear plugs keep your ears dry during swimming and ward off swimmer’s ear.  Whether in the ocean, pool or lake or any form of water activity – custom swim ear plugs will keep water out of the ear and free from infection.

Custom Swim Plugs

Custom Swim Ear Plugs

Custom swim ear plugs protect:

  1. Those with a hole in the eardrum
  2. Pressure Equalization tubes
  3. Individuals that don’t like water in their ears!

The waterproof protection helps to avoid ear infections and more serious problems like hearing loss.

Everyone has different needs when it comes to ear protection.  We can assist you in personalizing your ear plugs for any use or condition.   Our Audiologist has helped residents in the Chapel Hill, NC and Durham areas find custom swim ear plugs for years – from swim teams to individuals!

Hearing Solutions in the Triangle, PLLC has been happily serving the surrounding areas of Chapel Hill and Durham for years.  Dr. Carroll is dedicated to providing our clients with exceptional custom hearing protection solutions, so look us up if you need an ear plug solution today!  For online appointment scheduling click here.


Water Lover’s Ear Care


An ounce of prevention can provide summer-long protection!  Frequent swimming or surfing can leave your ears vulnerable to problems.  Swimming in chlorinated water can be especially swimmer underwaterdrying and vulnerable to infection but swimming in oceans or lakes can wreak havoc with all the organisms in the water.  The ear canal’s skin is so fragile that even microscopic irritations from scratching your ear can lead to a painful bout with swimmer’s ear.

When exposed to cold water repeatedly over time, the ear canal can produce bony growths – a condition called exostosis.  This condition is so common among surfer’s that it has become known as surfer’s ear.  Although benign, they can grow large enough to block the ear canal and cause hearing problems.

Follow these tips for prevention of ear trouble this summer!

  1. Check ears for wax buildup.  Although a small amount is necessary for conditioning your ear, larger amounts can trap water or debris.
  2. Use ear conditioner drops (not the same as earwax drops).  This prevents the skin from drying/cracking and soothes irritated ears.  Brands to consider are MiraCell, Eargene.
  3. Wear swim plugs.  Custom swim plugs are more effective at preventing water from getting into and lodging deep into the ear canal.  They come in bright colors and float.  Over-the-counter swim plugs are better than nothing but can leak.
  4. Stop using cotton swabs.  They increase chance of skin abrasion and prevent wax’s natural removal process by pushing wax deep into ear – which traps water and debris.
  5. Visit your doctor at the first signs of itching, pain or hearing loss.



Labryinthitis is an ear disorder that describes an inflammation of the inner ear or the labryinthitisauditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.  The inner ear consists of a system of fluid-filled tubes and sacs called the labyrinth. The labyrinth serves two functions: hearing and balance. This viral or bacterial infection causes inflammation of the inner ear and prevents information from being sent from the inner ear down the auditory nerve which can affect balance and hearing. Continue reading

Swimmer’s Ear Not Just For Swimmers!


Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s Ear also known as external otitis occurs when the skin of the ear canal gets inflammed, irritated or  infected. swimmers ear Surprisingly, this can happen whether you have been swimming or not!  Although frequent water exposure makes this type of infection more likely (especially in swimmers) – it can occur from showering as well as itching or scratching your ears.  Itching or scratching your ears can cause a break in the skin and allow bacteria underneath the skin of the ear canal.  Water exposure makes this infection more likely because the softening of the skin when it gets wet makes it easier for the bacteria to enter and start the infection.  Swimmer’s ear (or external otitis) can be so severe that the ear canal completely closes off from swelling.  Continue reading