(520) 881-8740

When working properly, the ear is self-cleaning. Ear wax naturally moves toward the opening of the outer ear. Here, it balls up and eventually falls out of the ear. In some cases, ear wax is unable to fall out naturally and can cause a build-up called impaction. Ear wax build-up can happen to anyone, but is especially common for those who wear hearing aids or earbuds/headphones.

How Does Ear Wax Become Impacted?

Earwax helps protect the inner ear by capturing foreign debris and dust with its sticky composition. The constant presence of a hearing aid can trigger an overproduction of earwax to protect the ear from what your body perceives as a foreign object. 

Impaction may occur as a response to the earmold pushing the excess ear wax into the canal. Attempting to clean your ears with a cotton swab can also push the wax deeper into your ear canal, creating a packing affect. When this process repeatedly happens, you may experience the following symptoms, suggesting an uncomfortable impaction of ear wax. If left untreated, infection can occur.

  • Feeling of fullness or a clog in the ear
  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear)
  • Partial hearing loss (temporary)
  • General aching of the ear

Ear wax impaction’s effect on hearing aids and ear buds:

  • Clogging of speakers on aids or earbuds
  • Loss of function of aids or earbuds
  • Improper fit

Treating Ear Wax Impaction

At home ear cleaning may be a viable option for some people. Some over-the-counter options can help remove ear wax, but must be used with caution. There are also different tools used to clear ear wax, but these are dangerous because they can push the wax in too far and cause even more impaction. Other options include ear wax dissolving solutions and ear wax candling. 

The safest way to remove excess ear wax is making an appointment with your audiologist. Your audiologist is a trained professional who knows the structure of the ear and what to consider when using different solutions and tools.

Preventing Ear Wax Impaction for Hearing Aid Wearers

For hearing aid wearers, preventing ear wax build up can be a tedious, yet important task. The constant presence of these devices presents a higher risk for those wearing in-ear hearing aids, including completely-in-the-canal (CIC) and in-the-canal (ITC) models. 

One way to prevent ear wax build up for hearing aid wearers is to clean your hearing aids regularly and don’t forget to check the speaker for clogs. Keeping the aids clean can help minimize any extra dust or debris from getting into the ear and triggering more production of wax. It can also help to keep the aids in optimum condition for maximum efficacy. Developing a regular at-home ear cleaning routine or scheduling a regular ear wax removal appointment with an audiologist can be a great option in reducing the risk of uncomfortable ear wax impaction.

Some hearing aid users find it beneficial to try out different styles of hearing aids. Additional options may be behind-the-ear (BTE) models. BTE hearing aids have options that allow for less of the outer ear and canal to be filled, creating space for the body’s natural removal of ear wax.

Silicone domes placed on the receiver instead of custom-fitted ear molds can also be an effective change that can create a better environment for ear wax removal. With numerous options available, a visit to the audiologist can provide answers that may result in enhanced comfort and less days with uncomfortable ears. 
At Sonora Hearing Care, we strive to provide our patients with the best hearing experience possible. From picking out a new style of hearing aid that better fits your specific needs, to removing ear wax, we are here to help. Book your appointment with us today!