If you wear hearing aids regularly, you may experience more issues with ear wax build-up than others. Not only can build-up of ear wax cause be annoying, but it can also affect the integrity of the hearing aids. Estimates show that about 60 to 70 percent of hearing aids sent to be repaired have been damaged by earwax.
Ear Wax Production
Ear wax, or cerumen, is produced by your body to protect your ears from water, foreign objects, dust, injuries and infections. Ear wax production begins when sweat glands and sebaceous glands in the walls of the outer ear canal produce a fatty mixture of secretions. As you move your jaw during talking and chewing, the secretions make their way through the ear canal and toward the opening of the ear. Because ear wax exits the ear where hearing aids rest, the natural process of ear wax migration out of the ear is disrupted.
Ear Wax and Hearing Aids
If you have a hearing aid that sits inside your ear, the ear wax that would normally dry up and fall out is more likely to stay inside and build up because it’s blocked. The presence of hearing aids may also cause your ear to produce even more wax, as your ear sees the device as a foreign object.
The excess earwax may affect the way that your hearing aid works, causing problems such as blockages that do not let the sound pass through the aid.
Ear wax build-up can cause:
- Earaches and infection
- Fullness in the ear
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear)
- Increased hearing loss
Ear wax build-up may affect hearing aids in the following ways:
- Creating hearing aid feedback
- Damage to the hearing aid from the oils and acid in the earwax
- Reducing effectiveness by blocking sounds coming from the device
- Causing the hearing aid to fit improperly
Protecting Your Hearing Aids
- Follow the care guidelines that came with your hearing aids, which include daily washing and drying.
- The wax trapped in your hearing aid should be removed every three months or if it is not working properly.
Warning: If you do not clear any debris or ear wax on or in your aids, you are reintroducing all of that back into your ear each time you put them in. This increases your risk of an ear infection.
Preventing and Removing Ear Wax Build-Up
When wearing hearing aids, your ears probably aren’t expelling the excess ear wax on their own. Schedule an appointment with your audiologist every three to six months for proper ear wax removal. Your audiologist may use a wax-dissolving formula to clear up blockages, perform manual removal of the wax with a curette, or irrigate using an Earigator.
The Earigator is an irrigation system that delivers a steady stream of water to ensure proper and safe removal. The doctors at Sonora Hearing Care use this device. Although some at-home removal kits are available over-the-counter, having a trained professional work with such a delicate part of your body is much safer, especially if you are already suffering hearing loss.
Warning: You should never try to remove ear wax on your own. The ear is meant to be self-cleaning. Trying to clean your ears with cotton-tipped swabs can push the earwax further into your ear and cause impaction. Smaller objects such as pins can have the same pushing effect and even damage the inner workings of your ear.
The audiologists and staff at Sonora Hearing Care work diligently to ensure the best care possible for your ears at each appointment. If you are seeking safe methods and quality care for your ear care, schedule your appointment for ear wax removal with Sonora Hearing Care today!