Your body uses a variety of means to clear out toxins in order for you to remain healthy. Removing toxins from your ears is the purpose behind earwax, which is naturally beneficial. However, if you wear hearing aids, earwax can create instrument performance and longevity issues. To get the most benefit from your hearing aids while allowing your body to do its job requires a delicate balance.
Why do you have earwax?

Cerumen, or earwax, is an oily substance created by the glands in your ear canal. Its purpose is to trap debris and germs that enter the ear canal so they do not do damage to the eardrum or middle ear. As you chew or talk, the action produced by your jaw helps to push the earwax with the trapped contaminants toward the entrance to the ear canal to be ejected. Occasionally, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, causing earwax buildup. This can cause obstructive hearing loss and can create additional problems with hearing instruments.

Should You Clean Your Ears?

Most people respond to earwax buildup by cleaning it out with tweezers or a q-tip. However, working to aggressively to clean your ears risks damaging your ears, which can result in irreparable hearing loss. Non-invasive methods, like ear-wax removal drops, may or may not be effective, and you run the risk of altering the natural process, making your ears too dry, leading to irritation. If you have a significant blockage or have a regular blockage, it is safer to allow a professional to remove earwax rather than do it yourself.

The earwax buildup issues compound for hearing aid users, which tend to stimulate cerumen production while impeding the natural migration of earwax out of your ear canal.

Will Earwax Buildup Damage Hearing Aids?

If earwax is not allowed to leave the ear canal, it builds up, causing infections and irritation. The buildup can also contribute to obstructive hearing loss, which renders your hearing aids ineffective. Worse yet, amplified sound that hits an obstruction in the ear canal bounces back to the hearing aid, which produces feedback or a high-pitched whistling sound.

A buildup of earwax in the vents and receivers of your hearing aid blocks or reduces the effectiveness of the sound amplification provided by it. The chemical composition of earwax degrades delicate internal parts inside your hearing aids, which reduces performance as well as threatens the life cycle of the instrument. In fact, between 60% and 70% of all damaged hearing aids sent in for repair are the result of earwax buildup inside the unit.

Controlling Earwax Ensures Better Longer-Term Hearing Aid Performance

Having a professional conduct regular earwax cleaning to prevent buildup might be necessary for individuals who tend to produce excessive earwax. However, the battle against earwax buildup in your hearing aids can be won through establishing two consistent habits related to hearing aid maintenance.

Daily cleaning of your hearing aids is more than just a good bit of advice; it is essential in order to ensure proper hearing aid function and unit longevity. Along with daily cleaning, you should regularly change the wax-guards in your hearing aids, or bring them in to have them changed, according to the directions that come with your specific model and the specific wax-guards used in the instrument.

Upstate Hearing Instruments Provides Support for Earwax Buildup Issues

Because hearing aid cleaning is crucial to hearing aid performance, Upstate Hearing Instruments makes the effort to educate our Redding, CA clients on proper cleaning procedures as well as changing wax-guards. In addition, our technical support team will perform regular cleanings and change the wax-guards for you, if necessary. Contact us for additional information and support for cleaning your hearing aids or for earwax buildup issues.


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Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

After earning a degree in electronics in 1982, Ken began his career by doing hearing aid repairs. As a hearing device user since he was eight and now with over 30 years of experience fitting hearing aids, Ken personally understands the unique problems and solutions associated with hearing loss and hearing devices.