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Hearing Aids and Ear Wax, The Causes & The Problems



Ear Wax and Hearing Aids, What You Need to Know

Hearing aids and ear wax buildups go hand in hand, like jelly and ice cream, but not nearly as nice. But why? What causes the ear wax build-up and why is it so much of a problem? Let's talk about hearing aids and ear wax, but first, let's talk about the natural process of ear cleaning.

Ear Wax Plug in Ear Canal

Ear Wax Migratory Process

Ear wax is generally not a problem for most of us, it is simply expelled from the ear in a natural process called the migratory process. Basically, the skin of the ear canal grows outwards from the centre of the eardrum towards the outer ear. As this happens, it brings the ear wax with it and it just basically falls out.

Interfering With The Natural Process

Sometimes, something interferes with this natural process, more often than not, it is the person shoving something like an earbud in their ear. This interferes with the migratory process and ear wax begins to build up. When it builds up enough, it occludes the ear canal and you will need to have it removed. 

Unfortunately, Hearing Aids Interfere With The normal ear wax Migratory Process

Hearing Aids Can Cause Ear Wax Build Up

Yes, you probably guessed it from the last paragraph, putting hearing aids in your ears can also affect the ear wax migratory process. So, unfortunately, in many cases, hearing aids go right along with ear wax build-up. That's why many hearing healthcare professionals offer their Patients ear wax removal as part of their package when they buy hearing aids.

Important to Get Ear Wax Removed

It is important when you are wearing hearing aids that you get ear wax build ups removed semi-regularly. How regularly depends on you. Some people hardly produce ear wax, others seem to over produce it. The real problem is that hearing aids do not like ear wax, ear wax can cause a host of problems for hearing aids. 

Ear Wax Kills Hearing Aids

The biggest problem is that ear wax can get into the speaker part of hearing aids and kill them. In fact, ear wax is one of the leading causes of hearing aid failure. It is probably the biggest reason for hearing aid repairs. Hearing aid electronics do not like ear wax and never the twain should meet. That is why any hearing aid that has the speaker placed in your ear canal has a wax guard. In order to protect your hearing aids, you need to follow a process to protect them.  

Hearing Aid Clean and Care

It is important that you follow a hearing aid clean and care process to ensure you protect your investment. The process involves drying and cleaning your hearing aids and you can read a fuller description of the process here. In essence, you should wipe your hearing aids with a clean dry cloth to remove oil and ear wax. You should take careful note of your wax filter and change it when needed. You should invest in a drying kit, simple kits will cost you not much more than a tenner, and they will ensure your hearing aids keep going for longer.

Change Your Wax Guards

If you want to keep your hearing aids in tip-top shape, make sure you change your wax guards when you need to. The wax guard is the only thing that keeps wax out of the speaker of your hearing aid. Usually, they do a fantastic job, however, if you leave it too long between changes the wax guard can fail and allow ear wax past.  

Make a visual inspection of your wax filter, if it is packed with wax, use the brush that came with your cleaning kit on it to try and dislodge it. This is better done in the morning because usually the ear wax will have dried overnight and will be easier to dislodge. If you can't get it all out, well then it is time to change the wax guard. 

Ear Wax Build-Up Causes Hearing Aid Whistling

Ear wax build-up in the ear canal can also cause a hearing aid to whistle or squeal. Although ear wax isn't the only reason a hearing aid squeals, it is one of the biggest causes. Having the ear wax removed will usually solve the problem. 

So, ear wax and hearing aids go together, however, you need to make sure that you stay on top of it. Your hearing health professional should be seeing you on a regular basis to check your ear health among other things. You need to make sure that you attend your appointments, doing so ensures that your professional can stay on top of your ear wax and that your hearing aids continue to work effectively. It pays off in real money terms, the better the ongoing care, the less chance your hearing aids will fail.

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Posted by

Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook GooglePlus Amazon Author Page Co Founder geoff@audiologyengine.com
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him

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