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Man in hospital bed takes care of his hearing aids

8 Hearing Aid Tips for Hospital Stays

Checking into a hospital can seem a little stressful, making it all the more important to feel empowered, alert, and engaged with the help of your hearing aids. Help protect them during your inpatient visit with these handy tips.

It can be easy to lose track of your hearing aids when getting inpatient care at a busy medical facility, so weíre sharing eight tips to help you protect your tech and continue hearing your best.

  1. Use a Container
    Keep a personally labeled container on the nightstand for your hearing aids when not in use. And remember: Hearing-aid dryers and dehumidifiers can double as storage, too!
  2. Bypass the Food Tray
    It might seem convenient to set your hearing devices on your food tray, but they can get damaged or lost that way. Better to keep them in their designated container.
  3. Take Them Out
    If staff comes to change the bedsheets and youíre unable to get out of bed, remove your hearing devices so they donít fall off in the linens and get discarded.
  4. Skip the Pockets
    Pockets seem naturally convenient for storing hearing aids, but not so fast! Your devices could become forgotten there and end up being tossed into the washing machine and damaged.
  5. Give the Batteries a Break
    Remember at night to remove the batteries from your hearing devices and leave the battery door open, helping reduce moisture and maximize battery life.
  6. Enlist Family Support
    Consider not keeping your hearing aids with you and instead having friends or family bring them when coming to visit, if thatís feasible.
  7. Share Your Concerns
    Make sure your medical team is aware if you have a significant hearing loss, and tell your doctor if youíre concerned about being able to hear just before surgery or in recovery.
  8. Think Ahead
    Inpatient facilities typically donít assume responsibility for lost hearing aids, glasses, or dentures, so provide a checklist to loved ones who can help you keep these critical items safe and sound.

Communicating on your terms means keeping your hearing technology safe, sound, and ready when you need it. For more tips on protecting or maintaining your devices, please donít wait. Contact our caring team today. Weíre here to help!

Illustration of an ear with graphics representing noise surrounding it

5 Reasons to Love Earwax | Three Cheers for Earwax!

Let’s talk earwax. From its texture to its appearance, it gets a bad name. We suspect the yellow-brown goo might be down a friend or two, so we want to give credit where credit is due.

Here are five reasons we think you should give earwax a second chance.


  1. Earwax Protects Your Ear Canal and Eardrum

  2. Like many things that seem pointless (eyelashes and nose hair, for example), earwax is actually important. It keeps dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms out of your body. A natural antimicrobial, earwax also keeps infection at bay should your ear canal sustain a scrape. Finally, it keeps your ear canal lubricated so it doesn’t become dry and itchy.
     

  3. Earwax Is Self-Cleaning

  4. Your ear canal has a slight incline. Your jaw’s motion during chewing and talking keeps your earwax from settling into your skin. Put the two together, and you have the perfect self-cleaning system: Your earwax slowly travels down your ear canal, where you can gently wipe it from your outer ear if necessary.
     

  5. Earwax Isn’t Even Wax

  6. The technical term for earwax is cerumen. It comprises a few different things: Secretions from two glands combine to line the inside of your ear canal; then dead hair, skin cells, dust, and the already mentioned microorganisms become trapped in this mixture. All of it together is cerumen.
     

  7. Earwax Is a Good Sign

  8. In general, having earwax is not the sign of poor hygiene some people think it is. Everyone produces earwax, and it serves several important purposes. You will know if your earwax becomes a problem, because you’ll experience hearing loss or develop discomfort in your ear canal.
     

  9. Cotton Swabs Are Not the Answer

  10. You can revel in crossing one more thing off your daily hygiene list: cotton swabs. Again, the ears are self-cleaning. On the rare occasion you suspect you have too much earwax, don’t stick anything hard in your ear, and don’t use ear candles. There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies that are as simple as a drop or two of a solution to break up the earwax, followed by flushing your ear canal gently with water. Regular use of cotton swabs strips your ear canal of important protection and can lead to impacted earwax.

Why Should You Bring a Companion?

Hearing Care Q & A

Question:
Why Do You Encourage Us to Bring a Companion?

Answer:
The simple answer is that everyone benefits, including your audiologist.

 

Let’s unpack some of the reasons for this:

  1. Hearing loss affects your companion, too
    Once someone suspects they have hearing issues, they’ll wait, on average, seven years before getting a hearing evaluation. One reason is they don’t think it affects the people around them.

    But a study by The National Council on Aging had surprising findings: After study participants with hearing loss began using hearing aids, their family members reported better relationships at home, better feelings of self-worth, better relationships with children or grandchildren, and even better physical health.

    Inviting a loved one shows you recognize that it affects them. It also shows you respect their insight, thoughts, and feelings about this important step you’re taking.

  2. Your companion provides a complementary perspective
    Whether it’s a spouse, a good friend, or a niece, your companion spends a lot of time with you, and their perspective will be a valuable complement to yours. They definitely notice things you don’t, such as how often and how much you turn up the TV. Your companion will also have their own questions based on their experiences with you, which can inform the discussion in ways you’d never have considered otherwise.
  3. Your companion learns more about you
    No matter how close you and your companion are, you probably haven’t discussed in detail how your hearing loss affects you. Sitting in the appointment with you provides them an intimate window into your world. Also, the audiologist can provide your companion a simulation of hearing loss, helping them understand better what you experience day to day.
  4. Your companion is an extra set of ears
    A typical new-patient appointment lasts 60–90 minutes — that’s a lot of information! We explain how hearing works, your specific type of hearing loss, and the best options for moving forward. If we decide together that hearing technology is the best solution, we’ll discuss different styles of hearing devices as well as accessories.

    Having a companion with you means you can focus on what’s being said while they take notes. Alternatively, you can both take notes and compare them afterward; you’re each sure to jot down things the other didn’t.

  5. Your technology can be tailored to the voice you hear the most
    If we decide technology is the best solution, you can bring whoever you’re around the most — a sibling, spouse, a child — to the fitting appointment so we can optimize the technology for their voice.
  6. Your companion can be involved in financial considerations
    Many people want to consult their significant other about major medical decisions. If your significant other is in the office with you, they can be a part of the conversation from the start and ask their questions directly.
  7. Your companion helps us, too
    For us to truly understand your situation and, therefore, truly be of optimal benefit, we depend on the perspective of someone close to you. They know where you thrive, where you struggle, what noises you don’t even realize you’re missing, and how your hearing loss affects others in your life who may not have the heart to tell you how its affecting them. Your input and their input are two sides of one coin, and each is crucial to our understanding of your listening lifestyle.

Are Balance Problems Related to Hearing Loss? The Inner Ear: A Tale of Two Systems

It’s common for people with hearing loss to have balance issues, and vice versa. This phenomenon might even affect you or a loved one. Do they occur together as a coincidence, or are hearing and balance actually related?

It turns out the answer is, “It depends.”

Let’s look at some basics first.

The Inner Ear
The inner ear is also known as the bony labyrinth, and it consists of both the cochlea and the vestibular system.

The cochlea (hearing)
The cochlea is where sound signals are captured, converted to electrical signals, and sent to the brain to be interpreted as sound.

The vestibular system (balance)
This comprises three bony canals and two pouches. These work together to tell your brain where your head is in space, as well as when and how it’s moving.

Hearing and Balance Problems 
Both hearing and balance depend heavily on the status of your inner ear, so it makes sense that what affects one may affect the other. But let’s look at some examples to see how parts of the inner ear can be affected to cause different conditions.

Noise-induced hearing loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is an example of hearing loss with no inherent balance problem. It is caused when the hair-like hearing cells in your cochlea are damaged. This damage means less (or distorted) sound input is sent to your brain. Because it’s only in your cochlea, this damage usually doesn’t affect your balance.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
Usually abbreviated BPPV, this is an example of a balance problem with no hearing loss. It causes sudden, brief spells of vertigo (a false feeling of spinning) and may be triggered by certain head movements.
What causes BPPV? The two pouches in your vestibular system hold a gel filled with crystals. These crystals react to gravity and help you understand when you’re speeding up and slowing down. But sometimes a crystal gets loose and floats into one of the three bony canals. When enough of these crystals end up in a canal, the fluid in that canal doesn’t flow as it should, and incorrect balance signals get sent to your brain. Because this doesn’t involve your cochlea, it doesn’t affect your hearing.

Ménière’s disease
Ménière’s disease is an example of hearing loss and balance problems that are often related. In fact, those are the chief symptoms — hearing issues in conjunction with balance problems.
This condition results from a buildup of endolymph, a fluid that fills the chambers and tubes of your inner ear. The increased pressure from the buildup confuses the hearing and balance receptors throughout, resulting in incorrect signals getting sent to the brain.

It’s Not a Slam Dunk
Many things lead to hearing loss. Many things lead to balance issues. As specialists in all things inner ear, an audiologist is uniquely suited to consider all your symptoms and determine which parts of your inner ear are causing you trouble. If you’re worried about a balance problem — yours or a loved one’s — contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Better Hearing & Speech Month: 7 Accessories to Turn Up Your Tech

Better Hearing & Speech Month: 7 Accessories to Turn Up Your Tech

Have you heard? Weíre celebrating Better Hearing & Speech Month in May!

In honor of the theme, ìCommunication for All,î here are seven hearing aid accessories to make sure youíre communicating and connecting your best with the people, places, and moments that matter in your life.

  1. Wireless Mic

    Conversations rock when everybody around the table can join in, but background noise at restaurants and other spaces can make that a tall order. Whether youíre having a one-on-one chat or hanging with a crowd, an extra microphone can help. A wireless BluetoothÆ microphone worn on your companionís lapel can send speech directly to your hearing aid, or place the mic in a central spot for group conversations.

  2. Phone Clip

    Does talking on the telephone seem harder than it used to be? Try using a phone clip. The ReSound Phone Clip+, for example, lets you stream phone calls, music, and other audio straight to your hearing device from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Itís hands-free ó simply clip it to your clothing ó and easily mutes background noise for clearer communication.

  3. Captioned Calls

    Speaking of easier phone chats: You may qualify for a caption telephone that shows the spoken words of the person youíre talking to. This landline device is free if a qualified hearing care professional certifies your hearing loss and need for the phone ó and it works with hearing aids. All you need is a standard phone line, a broadband internet connection, and electrical power.

  4. Audio Loop

    Audio loops or audio induction loops ó installed in homes, museums, theaters, churches, classrooms, medical offices, and other venues ó allow sound to be broadcast directly to individuals within the loop who have telecoils or T-coils, which can be embedded in hearing aids and cochlear implants. You could even install an audio loop in a vehicle, switch on your hearing aidís T-coil setting, and voila!

  5. Remote Control

    Who says remote controllers are just for TVs, DVRs, car alarms, and drones? With remotes designed for hearing aids, you can change your deviceís volume and program settings, switch the source of the audio youíre streaming, set ambient and streamed audio at different sound levels, and keep an eye on battery levels. Boom!

  6. TV Streamer

    When it comes to family time with a favorite TV show, setting the volume to everyoneís taste is no small feat. And with hearing loss, it can be even more challenging. Innovations such as the ReSound TV Streamer 2 ó a small tabletop device ó let you stream audio from your TV, stereo, or PC straight to your hearing aid at a level thatís customized to your needs without changing the volume for everyone else.

  7. Batteries

    It may seem pretty basic, but we had to throw this in: Getting the most out of hearing aids takes power, so be sure to keep extra batteries on hand. Batteries can last from a few days to a couple weeks ó depending on variables such as size, care, usage, and environmental conditions ó but our hearing experts can help you find the right match.

Interested in the latest hearing tech and accessories? Contact our caring team to learn more tips or to schedule a complimentary technology demonstration today!
 

Celebrate Better Hearing With Our 5 Ways to Support Your Hearing Health

The whir of a hummingbird. The warning of an approaching ambulance. The round of laughter after your deviously funny ó and deftly delivered ó wedding toast. That sublime guitar riff or soulful crescendo in your favorite song.

As we celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month in May ó and the theme, ìCommunication for Allî ó itís a great time to remember the many ways hearing makes a difference in your life. And to help you maintain those connections that matter, weíre sharing five easy tips for hearing your best.

  1. Know the Signs

    More than 466 million children and adults have disabling hearing impairment, according to the World Health Organization, but nearly all hearing loss can be treated. One of the first steps is recognizing the potential signs. If you experience muffled speech sounds, difficulty hearing on the phone or in a crowd, trouble understanding womenís or childrenís voices, or complaints from loved ones about your TV or radio volume, consider a professional hearing test.

  2. Curb the Noise

    Did you know? Noise-induced hearing loss ó a largely preventable public-health problem ó affects children and adults and is on the rise, according to the Hearing Health Foundation. Whether rocking out at a summer concert, enjoying New Year fireworks, or using power tools, consider limiting the duration of your noise exposure and wearing quality hearing protection.

  3. Hold the Swabs

    If you like the feeling of a cotton swab rubbed in your ear, youíre not alone. Itís a common habit but, oh, so dangerous. Sticking objects in your ear can cause injury and push earwax farther into the ear canal. To remove excess cerumen, use a warm soft cloth after washing or showering, or soften the wax with drops of warmed olive oil, water, or a commercial solution ó as long as you donít have a perforated eardrum. In cases of persistent ear pain, hearing loss, or blockage of the ear canal, contact us for a professional evaluation.

  4. Bring on the Bananas

    Healthy eating offers endless benefits, including better hearing wellness, so consider selected fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other key foods that can make a difference. Bananas, for example, pack potassium, which plays a role in regulating the inner-ear fluid crucial to healthy hearing. Look for foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as A, C, E, folate, magnesium, and zinc, too.

  5. Schedule Regular Checkups

    Itís easy to make better hearing a family affair by scheduling hearing evaluations for the whole household. How often? At least once a year, just as you would for your eyes or teeth. Staying atop your hearing health helps catch any potential changes or problems early, which is important for overall wellness.

At [practice-name], weíre here to help you and your loved ones hear your best during Better Hearing & Speech Month and beyond. Keep our five easy tips in mind, and contact our caring team for your next hearing check!

5 Tips to Keep Your Technology Going Strong

Does my hearing technology call for ongoing professional upkeep? Can I handle any needed maintenance at home? How can I tell whether my devices are damaged? Where can I take them for replacement or repair?

Much like today’s tablets and cell phones, hearing aids are powered by complex technology that may require professional attention in certain circumstances, but a little DIY maintenance can go a long way in keeping your devices in top shape. Read on for five simple tips to maximize your tech’s longevity.

Keep ‘Em Dry and Sanitized
Water is kryptonite to hearing aids, so remember to
remove them before showering or swimming, and use a hearing aid dryer or dehumidifier not only to reduce moisture but to sanitize and store your technology at the same time.

Wipe Off the Wax
Earwax (also called cerumen) naturally accumulates
in the ear and on your hearing aid, but gently wiping your devices each night with a soft, dry cloth and clearing the part of the device that goes into your ear canal with the provided brush will make quick work of the buildup.

Check the Batteries
Batteries typically can last from a few days to a
couple weeks depending on the technology, usage, and other factors, but a constantly beeping hearing aid may mean the batteries need changing. Always keep spares on hand, and remember to remove and store batteries at room temperature apart from your hearing aids when not wearing them.

Replace the Wax Guard
Put your hearing aid’s wax guard — which helps
protect against the damaging accumulation of wax, skin particles, and debris — on a monthly change schedule. Also, if your technology isn’t functioning properly even with fresh batteries, it may be time to change the wax guard.

Skip the Pockets
Pockets seem naturally convenient for carrying
loose hearing aids and batteries while on the go, but not so fast! Keep your devices in their case to avoid losing or getting debris on them, and place batteries where they won’t come into contact with keys, coins, and other metals, which can cause battery discharge and other problems.

Self-care of your hearing aids is an important part of keeping them performing their best, and periodic clean and checks with our caring professionals will identify and address any damage or other problems that might otherwise be hard to spot. Contact us to schedule a complimentary clean and check today!

What Is Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss and How Can It Be Treated?

Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

Your Refrigerator Is Running – Can You Hear It?

You’re probably familiar with the many telltale, well-known signs of hearing loss ó asking people to repeat themselves frequently, turning up the TV to uncomfortable levels for others in the room, or leaning into a conversation on one side to use your ìgood ear.î

But what if speech is clear to you and you never turn up the TV ó but you can’t hear whether the car you’re standing next to is running? This is an actual type of hearing loss, called reverse-slope hearing loss (RSHL), and people with this type often don’t realize they have a hearing impairment.

What Is Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss?

Hearing Loss Basics

The most common type of hearing loss ó the kind most people think of when they think of hearing loss ó is characterized by loss of sounds at higher frequencies and is sometimes called high-frequency hearing loss. These frequencies correspond to what we think of as high notes or high-pitched voices. As such, when someone first notices this type of hearing loss, it’s usually because they’re having trouble hearing women’s voices or those of the children in their life, and having difficulty hearing conversation in a restaurant.

Because this particular kind of hearing loss doesn’t affect lower frequencies but does affect mid-level and high frequencies, it has a distinct appearance on what’s called an audiogram ó the graphical representation of the results of a hearing test. On an audiogram, the graph starts in the upper-left-hand corner and may slope downward steeply, like a ski slope or more subtly as a gradual decrease across this frequency range. This is where this type of hearing loss gets its most common name: ski-slope hearing loss, sometimes shortened to simply sloping loss.

Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

RSHL is so named because its shape on an audiogram is the reverse of ski-slope hearing loss. In this type of hearing loss, the low frequencies are affected far more than the higher ones. This gives the audiogram the opposite shape ó the graph starts in the lower-left-hand corner and slopes upward steeply. Because it affects mainly the lower frequencies, it is also known as low-frequency hearing loss.

RSHL is rare: It affects only 3,000 people in the U.S. and Canada. Put differently, for every 12,000 cases of hearing loss, only one person has RSHL. Like ski-slope hearing loss, there are different degrees of RSHL.

Causes of Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

Many people don’t suspect they have RSHL unless someone in their family already has it, which underscores one of the main sources of RSHL: genetics. Wolfram syndrome, Mondini dysplasia, and inheritance through a dominant gene have all been identified as sources of RSHL.

Certain diseases have been implicated as well, mainly those affecting the hair cells, which are responsible for sending sound information from the inner ear to the brain. Examples include sudden hearing loss, MÈniËre’s disease, and viral infection.

The third most common source of RSHL is anything that causes a change in the pressure of the endolymph, a fluid in the inner ear. This includes things such as spinal or general anesthesia, intracranial hypertension, and a perilymphatic fistula.

How Is Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss Diagnosed and Treated?

From symptoms to industry norms, hearing care is focused chiefly on ski-slope hearing loss, so RSHL can be difficult to recognize, diagnose, and treat. Because it is often hereditary or genetic ó that is, because they were born with it ó many who have RSHL don’t realize that the way they hear is different, so they may never seek out a hearing appointment.

Symptoms of RSHL
  • Difficulty understanding speech on the phone. The aspects of speech that give it clarity (the consonants) are in the higher frequencies, the treble side of sound, but the aspects of speech that give it volume (the vowels) are in the lower frequencies, the bass side. Because RSHL involves the lower frequencies, speech loses its volume but retains its clarity. Face-to-face conversation, therefore, is not usually a problem. But the phone mainly delivers the low and middle frequencies, so it can pose a problem for RSHL.
  • Ease understanding women and children but not men. Again, because RSHL affects the lower frequencies, those with RSHL more clearly understand higher-frequency speech ó that of women and children ó than lower-frequency speech, such as that of men.
  • Inability to hear low-frequency environmental sounds. Thunder and a refrigerator humming are examples of low-frequency environmental sounds. Because the click of a refrigerator is a high-frequency sound, someone with RSHL might hear their fridge click, but they wouldn’t know if the hum was the fridge turning on or off, even if they were standing right next to it.
Diagnosing RSHL

Because of the prevalence of ski-slope or other high-frequency hearing loss, diagnostic tools focus on that type. Therefore, many with RSHL may ìpassî a hearing screening or are treated as though they have other issues. Naturally, this leads to frustration for all involved.

Key to diagnosis is a well-educated patient. Because this condition is rare, many in the hearing care field simply haven’t encountered it. RSHL has a distinct set of characteristics that an audiologist will look for but is not limited to:

  • Unusually good speech
  • Sensitivity to high-frequency environmental sounds
  • Poor speech perception in the absence of visual cues
  • High speech-detection thresholds
  • Pure-tone hearing losses
  • Inability to adjust to standard ski-slope hearing technology settings

A simple test any hearing care provider can use as an initial screening for RSHL is the Ling sound test performed while standing behind the patient. RSHL is most likely present if the ìsî and ìshî sounds are heard at a much softer sound level than the other sounds.

Treating RSHL

Those with RSHL tend to have high expectations of hearing aids, which can lead to frustration. An audiologist who hopes to successfully fit an aid for RSHL has to build the settings from the ground up, for several reasons.

  • Manufacturer-recommended hearing aid settings are meant for high-frequency hearing loss. As previously mentioned, only 3,000 people in the U.S. and Canada have RSHL; many millions have high-frequency hearing loss. It makes sense that the industry would weigh toward the type of hearing loss with the highest incidence but still allow audiologists to customize individual aids for rare types of hearing loss.
  • Hearing aids may be programmed based on computer settings that are based on the audiogram. These computer settings assume the most typical situation: ski-slope hearing loss. These settings rarely work for RSHL.
  • Hearing aids are built with the expectation of a high-frequency hearing loss. Often high-frequency losses need amplification in the high frequencies. The shape of the aid complements the shape of the typical ear canal, and this combination dependably treats high-frequency loss very well. But RSHLs require different amounts of amplification across a different range of frequencies.
  • People with RSHL have already successfully adapted to their speech needs. Having been born with this condition, many with RSHL develop the ability to navigate speech easily.

Treating RSHL means parking industry standards and theoretical fitting curves. It requires taking time to really listen to the patient, and then build the settings channel by channel, frequency by frequency, to what they find comfortable, audible, and helpful.

But there are certain starting points that may help in the treating of an RSHL. A study by Kuk et al. determined that

  • A digital, multichannel, nonlinear hearing aid is optimal
  • Wide dynamic range compression, a low compression threshold, and high-level compression might more effectively preserve hearing and comfort
  • Amplification in the lower frequencies is preferred, but gain may vary depending on input levels
  • A broad bandwidth with individualized amplification customization is desirable
  • The paired comparison technique may help customize individual settings
Why Is It Important to Treat Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss?

You may well be thinking, ìThose symptoms don’t sound so bad ó why bother putting myself through all the frustration of getting diagnosed and fitted?î

The key reason is safety. Much of what you lose with RSHL is environmental sound. If you can’t hear a car coming, you can’t avoid it. If someone some distance from you is trying to warn you away from something, you might not hear it, because volume is a product of the lower frequencies.

Another reason is enjoyment. There are many aspects and nuances in music that you might be missing out on if you have RSHL, because you’re missing the low-frequency sounds ó for example, much of what is below middle C.

Contact us today if you think you or someone you love might have reverse-slope hearing loss.

Sources:
Kuk F, et al. Changing with the Times: Managing Low-Frequency Hearing Loss. Hearing Review. November 2003. http://www.hearingreview.com/2003/11/changing-with-the-times-managing-low-frequency-hearing-loss/. Accessed Feb 2, 2018.
Bauman N. The Bizarre World of Extreme Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss (or Low-Frequency) Hearing Loss. http://hearinglosshelp.com/blog/the-bizarre-world-of-extreme-reverse-slope-hearing-loss/#characteristics. Accessed Feb 2, 2018.

Earwax Dos & Don’ts. Hint: Hold the Cotton Swabs!

Earwax, that yellowish-brown goo, might inspire an ìIck!î or two, but managing it the right way can make a difference in your hearing health.

Here’s a primer on why you have earwax and what to do about it.

Why is earwax in your ear?

Earwax, or ìcerumen,î results from secretions by the ceruminous glands in the outer ear canal. The secretions help lubricate the ear canal and help maintain an acidic environment that curbs harmful bacteria and fungi.

Life without earwax would be a lot less comfortable: It not only helps keep the ear canal clean but prevents dirt and other debris from reaching and potentially damaging the eardrum. In addition, earwax can help keep ears from feeling itchy and dry.

When should earwax be removed?

Normally you needn’t remove earwax; your ears will naturally handle that function by pushing out the excess.

Sometimes the glands may produce more wax than the ear can eliminate, and blockage can occur. People who use hearing aids, wear earplugs, or push objects such as cotton swabs into their ears can be more prone to these problems.

When excess buildup gets to the point of causing pain or symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or dizziness, it’s time to clean it out.

What are the dos and don’ts of ear cleaning?
  • DO use a warm, soft cloth ó after washing or showering ó to remove normal amounts of earwax at the outer ear, if needed.
  • DO gently soften the earwax with drops of warmed olive oil, almond oil, water, or a commercial solution to remove larger amounts of earwax or an earwax plug.
  • DO try irrigating the ear by gently rinsing it out with water.
  • DON’T use ear candles, which may cause serious injury and have not been proven effective in scientific studies.
  • DON’T stick cotton swabs or other objects in the ear; they can cause injury and push wax farther into the ear canal.

Sometimes earwax buildup requires the attention of a professional who can examine your ears, determine the nature of the problem, and customize a treatment, which may include prescribing eardrops, irrigating the ear, using a suction technique, or providing another appropriate solution.
 

Why do people still clean their ears with cotton swabs?

Despite the unequivocal warnings from the medical community and the warning on each box, people still clean their ear canals with cotton swabs. Why is that? To put it bluntly, it feels good, because of the numerous sensitive nerve endings in the ear canal. Compounding the problem is the itch-scratch cycle: You use a swab to calm an ear itch, but the more you use cotton swabs, the more your ear itches.


If you’re experiencing problems such as persistent ear pain, hearing loss, blockage of the ear canal, or potential perforation of the eardrum, contact us for an evaluation.