If you hear your audiologist talking about cerumen, they’re just talking about earwax. As gross as it is, everybody has wax inside their ears.
Why do we have earwax?
Earwax provides lubrication to the ear canal and it also has antibacterial properties. It protects your ear canal from dust, bacteria, and other foreign substances. It also keeps the skin moist which reduces itching.
Earwax is naturally moved out of the ear canal during normal activities like chewing and speaking. Once it reaches the outside of the ear it either flakes off, or is removed during washing. To clean your ears, our audiologist recommends getting a little bit of water in your ear during a shower. Then put a towel over your finger and gently swish your finger around the external part of your ear. Do not push your finger deep inside your ear canal.
Some people’s ears produce an abundance of earwax, and they can become prone to buildup. Signs of earwax buildup include:
- Sudden or partial hearing loss
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Mild ear pain
If you feel like you have wax buildup inside your ears, do NOT use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other tools to try to remove it. This can often push wax deeper inside your ear canal or cause damage to your ear. Instead, purchase an over-the-counter treatment such as Debrox to break down the blockage. Follow the directions on the specific product that you choose. These products can take care of wax buildup in the majority of cases.
If you try Debrox and still feel as though you have wax in your ear, it’s time to contact your hearing healthcare provider. Your audiologist can look inside your ear for wax buildup and can use a specialized curette to remove it.
What about ear candling?
We do not recommend or support ear candling to remove earwax, or for any other purpose. Scientific evidence shows that ear candling can actually increase the amount of wax buildup inside the ear. Additionally, it comes with additional risks, such as burns.
Earwax & Hearing Aids
For hearing aid wearers, even a normal volume of earwax can lead to hearing aid troubles. Earwax is one of the most common causes of hearing aid malfunction. Some people find that wearing hearing aids stimulates their ears to produce more wax.
In order to keep your hearing aids working well, clean visible wax and debris off of the devices every day using a soft, dry cloth. If you notice your hearing aids don’t sound as loud as usual, or don’t seem to be working properly, you may need to change the wax filter. Most hearing aids come with a built-in wax filter to protect the inner components of the hearing aid from becoming damaged with wax. Changing the filter is a simple process that can be performed at home. If you need to purchase more wax filters, they are available through our online store.
Despite daily cleaning and periodic filter changes, sometimes earwax can still work its way into your hearing aid and cause it to malfunction. If you are experiencing issues with your hearing aid, contact your audiologist to schedule an appointment. Your audiologist has special tools to remove harder-to-reach wax from your hearing aids.