Hearing Aids And Wax Compaction - Removal Methods To Avoid

Health & Medical Articles

If you wear an inner ear hearing aid, then you may have difficulties with pain, pressure, and general discomfort within your ears. This typically happens when ear wax becomes compacted in the ear canals. This is a common occurrence, and you may try a variety of different methods to clean out the thick material. Unfortunately, this can cause permanent ear damage and it can lead to an even worse hearing loss condition. Listed below are a few methods that you should avoid.

Ear Candles

Ear candles are long wax devices that are cone shaped and advertised for use within the ears. The candles are made up of a cotton or linen material that is covered in wax, and the fabric is formed into a conical shape. Most ear candles are a little less than a foot long and they are hollow in the middle. The thin end of the device is placed within the ear and the long end is lit with a match. The candle is supposed to create heat and a small amount of pressure that pulls ear wax out of the ear.

Ear candles are not a good wax removal option, because the tapered end can actually move ear wax further into the ear canal. The force can puncture the ear drum and cause damage to the small parts within the middle ear. Also, the wax within your ear is not actually made out of wax. It is a combination of old skin cells, keratin, fat, alcohol, and cholesterol. This means it cannot be melted with heat like other waxy substances can.

The product can also force wax from the candle to enter the ear, and burns can sometimes occur when the candle flame comes too close to the skin.

What Should You Do Instead?

If you feel that ear wax has built up and compacted within the ear canal, then it is wise to thin out the wax so it can flow out of the ear on its own. There are several substances that are safe and effective when placed within the ear. Baby oil, mineral oil, and glycerin are a few examples. To thin the wax, tip your head to the right and place two drops of the oil in your left ear. Wait about 30 seconds and place a clean cloth against the side of your ear and tip your head to the left. Repeat the process on your right ear.

If you still feel pressure and pain coming from your ears after thinning and removing ear wax, then place two or three drops of hydrogen peroxide in them. This will help to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that may be causing an infection or inflammation concern.

Cotton Swabs

Many people use cotton swabs to clean the ears, but these products are also dangerous. The swab can easily reach the ear drum and cause a rupture. When this happens, clear fluids may leak from the ear and you may notice some hearing loss until the ear drum heals. Also, the swab can cause pressure to change within the ear and this can lead to dizziness and equilibrium problems.

Cotton can also release from the swab and cause an even worse compaction concern, and bacteria can be forced into the canal if you touch the end of the swab before placing it in your ear.  This can cause an infection.

What Should You Do Instead?

Instead of using cotton swabs to clean out compacted ear wax, make an appointment with your physician or audiologist. A medical professional will use a device called a curette to remove the ear wax for you. This instrument is a long and thin handled device with a small scoop at the end. The scoop is used to catch and release compacted wax in a safe manner.

If the physician feels that wax is not badly compacted, then your ear may be flushed or irrigated instead. Irrigation will occur with a mixture of water and medicine that will quickly thin out wax so it will release from the ear canal.

If you wear hearing aids, then you may have some difficulties with the build up of ear wax behind the hearing device. You need to be careful when clearing out the wax from your ears though, or damage may occur.


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