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Earwax Buildup with Hearing Aid

man wearing a blocked hearing aid

Everyone produces earwax. It’s a healthy and important part of your auditory system, designed to help shift and remove dirt, dust, and bacteria, keeping the ear free of foreign material. However, a buildup of that same earwax can become a problem, especially for those who wear hearing aids.

An earwax buildup can cause damage to your hearing aid, cause issues like feedback and muffled sound amplification, and cause the device to no longer fit, and even exacerbate existing hearing loss. An audiologist can provide regular cleanings to ensure that earwax buildups are tackled effectively, but learning to care for your hearing aid effectively is essential, as well.

Hearing aids can cause earwax issues

Besides the fact that earwax buildups can cause more problems for those who wear hearing aids, it’s also true that if you wear a hearing aid, you’re more likely to have an earwax buildup at some point. Not only does the hearing aid tend to stimulate the cerumen glands in the ear, producing more earwax, but it can also sometimes stop the wax from naturally clearing out of the ears, as well.

As such, if you believe that you regularly suffer earwax buildup, you should meet with your audiologist to discuss having more regular cleanings. It can reduce the risk of some of the negative health impacts of buildup, such as further hearing loss and infection, while also keeping your hearing aid in better condition.

How earwax can cause hearing aid issues

When earwax begins to build up and doesn’t clear from the ear naturally, as it’s supposed to, it can do real damage to your hearing aids. For one, the buildup can stop sound from effectively traveling through your ear. It can block the sound waves sent from the receiver part of the hearing aid to the microphone. This bounces the waves back, causing feedback, a high-pitched noise that many find uncomfortable.

Furthermore, earwax can clog parts of the hearing aid, such as vents and receivers, which stops it from working as effectively. The moisture present in earwax can also damage the hearing aid and corrode the battery, leading to more serious malfunctions down the line.

Cleaning your hearing aids to protect them

As many as 60-70% of all hearing aids sent in for repairs are damaged by the buildup of earwax or other organic materials. As such, stopping the eroding effects of earwax by cleaning your hearing aids could prevent you from having to deal with malfunctions, issues, and repairs as regularly as you might otherwise.

Your audiologist can help you choose a hearing aid cleaning kit if you don’t already have one. They have tools including wax removal picks and brushes, tube and vent cleaners, and more. When you start cleaning, start by wiping the hearing aid with a clean, dry cloth. You should be able to spot most deposits of wax sticking to the device. If it has a wax guard or filter, check them every day for signs of debris.

The sound bore or tip, where the sound exits the hearing aid, can also become clogged, and a small wax brush or loop can help you scoop it clean. Similarly, any tubing can become blocked, and wax loops and air blowers can help dislodge it.

As mentioned, earwax buildups can also lead to excessive moisture, which can damage the complex components in the hearing aid and corrode the battery. Asking your audiologist about a hearing aid dryer or dehumidifier can help you prevent this.

Should you clean your ears?

When it comes to cleaning earwax out of your ears, you should be careful how you do it. Trying to clean them using cotton buds or other small objects can be very dangerous, often leading to worse impactions that have to be professionally cleaned. Other methods like ear candling can be even more dangerous, leading to burns.

Instead, talk to it about your audiologist. Depending on how severe the buildup is, they can use irrigation kits to flush out the earwax or take a closer look, using specially designed tools to safely and effectively scoop out the earwax that is causing the blockage.

Get in touch if you have any questions about earwax and hearing aids

Besides being able to provide routine, scheduled ear cleanings to get rid of earwax buildup, your audiologist can be an excellent source of information and advice when it comes to the maintenance, cleaning, and care of hearing aid devices. Get in touch with The Center for Audiology at 713-255-0035 for our Houston office or 713-800-5050 for our Pearland location.