Let Me Give You an Earful: Earwax and Hearing Aids

Did you know there is a connection between earwax and hearing aids? While a normal amount of ear wax is a good thing, too much can spell trouble. If you are wearing an earmold with a cochlear implant or wearing a hearing aid, too much ear wax can:

  • Result in hearing aid feedback
  • Damage your hearing aid devices
  • Block sound and reduce the effectiveness of your hearing aids
  • Cause further hearing loss
  • Cause your hearing aids to not fit as well as desired.

In addition to the previously mentioned problems, ear wax can be annoying and unsightly if it’s oozing out of your ear canal. You should, however, think twice before grabbing tweezers, a q-tip olr inserting any other object into your ear canal to clean them out. 

Contrary to what you have probably believed your entire life, these methods of cleaning your ears can do more harm than good. To provide clarity, let’s take a closer look at ear wax as well as the connection between ear wax and hearing aids. 

Should I Clean Earwax from My Ears?

Before explaining how using these products can cause harm, it is important to understand the role earwax has in the body. Earwax is produced by the glands in the ear canal to help keep the ear clean and functioning properly. It is designed to keep the ear moisturized, smell funky in order to prevent bugs from going in, is a natural barrier from harmful outside particles and has antimicrobial peptides that prevent infections from growing.

However, just like everything else in life, too much of a good thing can turn bad. An abundance of earwax can harden and build up over time; this is known as impacted earwax. Impacted earwax can cause ear aches, infections and sometimes hearing loss.

The problem with cotton swabs is they are rough on the ears, pushing earwax deeper into the ear canal. This can cause damage to the eardrum or create impacted earwax, worsening the situation. Instead, doctors recommend just waiting it out.

Your body was built to naturally expel earwax over time, so just let it do its thing. If the earwax buildup is just too much for you to bear, we recommend ear drops or irrigation kits to help get rid of all that excess wax. Here are a few ways you can safely clean your ears at home:

  •  Use warm water
  • Use over-the-counter waxSoftener to clean your ears
  • Use the syringe process

That being said, keep in mind that you should not have your ears irrigated if you have a perforated eardrum or are dealing with an ongoing ear infection. And it’s best to avoid using q-tips or other off-the-cuff practices like candling.

Can Hearing Aids Increase Ear Wax Production? 

So, now that you are up to date on your earwax knowledge, you may be asking yourself, “How are earwax buildup and hearing aids connected?” Well, actually, they are quite the pair! Hearing aids block the earwax your body is naturally trying to push out. 

As a matter of fact, hearing aids will often stimulate the ear canal gland and cause it to produce more earwax than normal. This is why so many people report an increase of earwax when they begin using hearing aids; it’s how the body naturally reacts to something being stuck in the ear.

To prevent complications with earwax and hearing aids, most doctors recommend you wipe them down often with a dry, soft cloth. You can also use the pick and brush that comes in the cleaning kit to get rid of all the excess wax on your beloved hearing aids.

The tricky part about earwax buildup and hearing aids is knowing when the buildup is “too much”. If you have been dealing with frequent earaches or are dealing with consistently dirty hearing aids, then it is time to have your ears professionally cleaned. There is nothing wrong with admitting that the problem has gotten out of hand; better safe than sorry.

When Should I Have My Ears Professionally Cleaned? 

As we previously mentioned, your ears will clean themselves in most instances. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact North Shore Hearing P.C. for professional ear cleaning:

  1. Are your ears blocked? If you feel your ears are blocked or clogged, it’s probably due to a buildup of ear wax. Whether it’s an increased production stimulated by your hearing aids or a collection, the team at North Shore can professional techniques to safely clean your ears. 
  2. Have you noticed a dark-colored ear wax? We’ve all cleaned our ears and noticed the familiar yellow color of wax. If you notice a darker color than usual — specifically with a brown hue — you may have debris in your ears and need professional cleaning. 
  3. Do you feel ear pain? While pain is commonly associated with ear infections, it can also be a symptom of too much ear wax, which requires professional cleaning. 
  4. Have you experienced a loss of hearing? There are several different causes of hearing loss. If you’re in the beginning stages of hearing loss, an experienced hearing professional will probably want to eliminate the likelihood of excessive wax. Too much earwax can clog your canal and make it more difficult to hear, which is actually called conductive hearing loss.  

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C. 

At North Shore Hearing P.C., we are your local hearing experts — specializing in virtually all things to do with your ears. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary hearing screening.