Earwax Buildup with Hearing Aids
When you wear hearing aids, it’s important to take good care of them and to be aware of potential risks that can affect their performance, including earwax buildup. While earwax is essential for keeping the ears lubricated and to protect against dirt and dust, too much earwax can be problematic. If you’re worried about excess earwax, or your hearing aids aren’t working as well as they should be, here’s a handy guide to earwax buildup and hearing aids.
What exactly is earwax?
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a substance produced by the body to lubricate the ear canals and protect the inner ear from dust and debris. The aim is for the wax to trap dirt before it can reach the depths of the ear canal. Earwax is essential for healthy ears, but there is a risk of producing too much earwax. If the body produces an excess, it is possible for the wax to collect and cause a buildup. Earwax is usually removed naturally, but if there is a buildup, the wax can harden and start to cause problems. Excess earwax can increase the risk of ear infections, cause hearing problems and affect the performance of hearing aids.
Hearing aids and earwax buildup
If you wear hearing aids, you may be at risk of developing problems related to increased earwax production. The presence of a foreign body within the ear can stimulate earwax production, which puts hearing aid users at greater risk of cerumen buildup. Usually, the ears clean themselves, but the introduction of a hearing aid can slow the process, elevating the risk of wax collecting and hardening.
If you have hearing aids, and there is too much wax inside the ear canals, this can result in:
- Damage to the hearing aid
- Poor hearing aid performance
- Difficulty hearing
- Poor fit
Earwax buildup is a very common cause of hearing aid issues. Too much wax within the ear can affect the hearing aid’s ability to capture and process sounds, as well as causing damage to the component parts of the hearing aid.
When to seek help
Earwax is usually removed from the ears as part of the body’s self-cleaning mechanisms. In some cases, when the wax cannot be eliminated quickly or effectively enough, a buildup forms. If you have hearing aids and they’re not working properly, you’re struggling to hear normally or you have symptoms such as dizziness, earache, tinnitus or a feeling of fullness in the ear, it’s wise to contact your audiologist. If wax is not being removed naturally, there are treatments and techniques that can be used to clear a buildup.
As hearing aid users are at risk of earwax buildup, it’s advisable to attend regular appointments and to make sure that you keep your hearing aids as clean as possible. When you have your hearing aids fitted, your audiologist will show you how to clean the different parts of your hearing aids. Daily cleaning is essential for protecting the hearing aids from dirt, dust and grease and for ensuring optimum performance. Once you get used to cleaning techniques, it should only take a couple of minutes to clean your hearing aids and remove any excess wax and debris.
Removing earwax safely
Many people are tempted to prod the ears to remove wax, but this often does more harm than good. Devices like cotton swabs should never be inserted into the ear canal. They can damage the fragile structures within the ear, and they can also push the wax further down. If you do have symptoms of wax buildup, or you’re worried about keeping your ears clean with hearing aids, it’s best to seek advice from your audiologist and avoid DIY earwax removal techniques. Audiologists use tried and tested, safe, effective techniques to eliminate excess wax and prevent collections. Examples include irrigation and curettage. Irrigation involves washing the wax out, while curettage employs suction power to remove buildups.
Earwax is produced by the body as part of the ear’s self-cleaning system. While earwax is essential for healthy ears, too much wax can pose risks. If you have hearing aids, you may be more prone to earwax buildup, so it’s vital to clean your hearing aids daily and to attend frequent appointments with your audiologist. If you have any questions or concerns about earwax, or you’re worried that you may have a buildup, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our experienced team is ready and willing to help. Call Advantage Hearing & Audiology today at Greensboro 336-271-4944 or Eden 336-623-2422.