If you’ve noticed that your ears feel full and your hearing is duller than it used to be, earwax could be to blame.
Everyone has earwax, also known as cerumen, and everyone needs it. It protects and lubricates your ear canal, stopping dust, water and anything else damaging from getting in. Without earwax, your ears, and hearing, would quickly become damaged.
But you can have too much of a good thing, and too much earwax can lead to mild deafness, a feeling of fullness in your ear, ringing in your ear, or an earache. If you wear hearing aids, the wax build-up can cause your hearing aid to whistle.
How much earwax should you have?
Everyone produces different amounts of earwax. If it’s not causing hearing loss or pain, then you probably don’t have too much (though always get it checked out if you’re worried.)
Earwax is produced in the outer part of your ear canal and naturally moves out of your ears as they clean themselves. This leads to the gunk that you might be able to see outside your ear. It could be sticky and yellow-brown in colour, or it might be dry and grey. Either is completely normal.
If you can see earwax outside your ear, that’s a good thing. It means your ears are doing their job of cleaning out old and excess wax. Simply clean away any wax you can see outside your ears, and leave the wax inside your ear to do its job.
When should you worry about earwax?
Wax becomes a problem if it can’t make its way out of your ear. If there is wax stuck in your ear, this could be because you have narrow or bendy ear canals, or because your body has started to produce too much wax and your ears can’t clean it out fast enough.
When this happens, many people reach for the cotton buds. Never do this – it will just push the wax further in and compact it, potentially damaging your ear and hearing.
What can you do about earwax?
- Use wax-softening drops or oil twice a week (or according to the instructions on the box).
- Limit ear cleaning to the outer ear only.
- Treat any associated inflammatory skin conditions.
- Get excess wax removed professionally.
If your ears are blocked with wax and you’re experiencing pain or hearing loss as a result, then we recommend you get the wax removed. Wax softening drops can be very helpful, but they aren’t always able to work through particularly troublesome wax.
How we can help you with earwax
We specialise in wax removal at Hearing & Audiology.
We use advanced methods of micro-suction as well as manual extraction using specialised instruments to safely remove wax from your ears. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to book your wax removal appointment.
For more information or to speak to one of our audiologists, call us today or book your free consultation online now.
Untreated hearing loss takes a toll on relationships
Untreated hearing loss does not only affect an individual’s quality of life – it also has an impact on his or her relationships, especially the most important ones. This is because hearing loss affects one’s ability to communicate, and by definition, communication involves a least one other person. While managing hearing loss can be challenging, there are many ways to do it, and harnessing the various hearing loss solutions available to you can improve relationships and, ultimately, your level of happiness and satisfaction with life.
But first, it’s important to understand how untreated hearing loss can impact your relationships:
Untreated hearing loss can impact the whole family
Untreated hearing loss can also affect relationships with children. When kids are small, it could potentially be a dangerous situation if you can’t hear their cries. As children are older and begin talking, it can be difficult to engage and understand them, and young kids might think you don’t care or aren’t interested in what they have to say. Needless to say, this can be emotionally difficult for the entire family. Even with hearing loss solutions, it can still be challenging. For example, as Shanna Groves says in her blog – Lipreading Mom – even with hearing aids, she still must often ask her children to repeat what they said.
Untreated hearing loss can also emotionally impact adult children, especially those who have encouraged their parents to get help.
Romantic relationships are dependent upon emotional, verbal and physical connections. For people who are hard of hearing and their significant others, hearing loss can be a barrier to all of these things. In a 2007 article from The ASHA Leader, audiologist and Professor Patricia Chute talked about some of the confusion involved in romantic relationships with hearing loss:
“All too often spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when in fact it is truly a hearing problem that is chipping away at their ability to communicate,” Chute said.
And a survey by Cochlear Americas that same year revealed that the relationship people with hearing loss cited as most likely to suffer was that with their romantic partner – a whopping 35 percent said romantic relationships trumped others in communication difficulties. When asked about their feelings when conversing with someone who appeared not to be listening because of hearing loss, 54 percent of people said they felt frustrated, 32 percent felt annoyed, 23 percent were sad and 18 percent felt ignored.
It’s not hard to imagine that relationships with significant others suffer the most; after all, in today’s busy world of work, volunteer activities and raising children or grandchildren, romantic relationships often thrive on finding brief, spontaneous and meaningful moments to connect emotionally. But these opportunities for connection are often unscripted. However, with untreated hearing loss, romance and spontaneity often have to be removed from the factor as cues are missed and communication must be planned.
Social relationships also suffer with untreated hearing loss. For example, if friends don’t realize you have hearing loss, they may think you are a poor listener or don’t really care about them. For example, if you have a phone call with your best friend and she tells you when everyone is getting together for her birthday celebration, but your hearing loss causes you to hear the wrong time or date, she may think you just didn’t care to show up. She might not call you again, and your feelings may be hurt. This communication mix-up could cause you to withdraw from others in the future, leading to isolation and potentially depression.
Untreated hearing loss can put a strain on work relations, much for the same reasons outlined above: Communication is at the heart of working with colleagues. Even in a work environment where your role is not collaborative, your hearing loss might cause you to miss something important. Luckily, many things are done via email, but work meetings may be especially tough when several people are talking at once. For example, you may miss your boss’s cue to give your input, or you may not be able to participate fully in a meeting when more than one person is talking at a time. Thus, colleagues may think you are ignoring them or are not willing to work hard and contribute.
For tens of millions of tinnitus sufferers, daily activity can be a challenge. Finding help can be frustrating. And the confusion surrounding the condition can lead to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.
Tinnitus is often described as buzzing, ringing, hissing, humming, roaring, or whistling that someone hears in the absence of any external sound. Approximately 17 to 20 per cent of Australians suffer from some degree of tinnitus, varying from mild to severe. The percentage of people who are severely affected is small. It is common for a person’s tinnitus to be affected by stress or tiredness, but this has no harmful significance.
Some of the myths surrounding tinnitus can hinder sufferers’ attempts to get better. Separating fact from fiction is an important step for any tinnitus sufferer.
Five common tinnitus myths, and insight into the real facts behind the myths.
1. Tinnitus only affects people who’ve gone to lots of concerts and listened to loud music. While it is true that prolonged exposure to loud noises (music or other) can be one cause of tinnitus, the reality is that tinnitus has many causes – and many people develop tinnitus for no clear reason. People of any gender, age, race, background or profession can suffer from the condition. At the same time, research shows that common elements exist in all tinnitus sufferers. The key to success with treatment is choosing one that effectively addresses these commonalities.
2. Tinnitus will probably just go away on its own. Many people are afraid or embarrassed to mention the sounds to friends, family or associates – let alone seek help. They hope that the ringing will disappear. While tinnitus caused by a medication or other temporary situation may cease if that element is removed, the reality is that tinnitus does not just “go away” for most people. The sooner a sufferer seeks help from a trained audiologist, the better – and sooner – the chances for significant improvement.
3. Tinnitus is an incurable disease. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of causes that include everything from exposure to loud noises and certain medication use to underlying neurological damage. While tinnitus itself is not a disease, untreated, it can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, and problems with memory and concentration. The good news? Tinnitus is one condition that people often can manage with effective treatment.
4. Tinnitus can be cured by cutting out certain foods or other items from the diet. Over time, different foods and additives have received the blame for tinnitus. Research has proven this to be false. Eating a balanced, healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercises, can play important roles in the management of tinnitus. But they can’t “fix” tinnitus on their own.
5. There is no real help for tinnitus. This is the greatest myth of all. More research has lead to more and better treatments for tinnitus. Hearing And Audiology specialises in tinnitus can help individuals determine whether or not they have tinnitus, and if the tinnitus is mild, moderate or severe. We can advise on the best treatments. Some now-available treatments are customized to each patient’s unique hearing profile, and target the underlying auditory, attentional and emotional processes underlying the tinnitus.
Don’t put up with Tinnitus…call us today – we can help you.
Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss?
Contributed by Lisa Packer, staff writer, Healthy Hearing | Monday, January 25th,
With the New Year upon us, it is likely that many of you have resolved to finally start exercising, and to make this the year to get fit. Perhaps spring break is looming, and you have visions of finally getting that buff beach body you always wanted. Or maybe you just want to start exercising more for your overall health. There is no denying that exercise is beneficial to the body and mind. But be careful, because that new fitness routing might come with an unpleasant side effect: hearing loss.
Straining or holding your breath
during exercise can cause pressure
to build up in the inner ear.
One fitness program in particular, which is rapidly gaining a cult following across the nation, can also have negative consequences for your hearing if you are not careful. CrossFit, which is a training program first used by the police and military special forces, is a high intensity workout that combines weightlifting, cardio, core training and more. Designed to push the body to its limits, CrossFit can deliver results in the form of peak physical fitness. But some participants are paying a high price for getting in shape.
Two common practices to avoid
You may be asking, “What does exercise have to do with my ears?” To illustrate, let’s look at two common practices that can occur during the weightlifting portion of CrossFit. The first of these is straining. Straining causes intracranial pressure (pressure within the brain) which in turn leads to pressure within the ears. The next is breath holding, which some swear gives them an extra boost in weight lifting by solidifying the core and supporting the spine. However what happens when you hold your breath? More pressure in the inner ear.
The pressure in the inner ear can lead to changes in the hearing during or after intense exercise as a result of a perilymphatic fistula, or PLF, which occurs unexpectedly and which most people aren’t aware of right away. Simply put, a PLF is a small tear or defect in the thin membrane between the inner ear and the middle ear. The tear itself can be caused by the pressure in the inner ear due to straining; hearing changes occur when the strain of subsequent workouts causes fluid from the inner ear to leak through the tear and into the middle ear.
It’s not just CrossFit
CrossFit isn’t the only culprit, certainly. Though devotees of CrossFit in particular, due to the culture in which participants are encouraged to strain themselves to the absolute limits, need to be mindful of the risks to their hearing, other forms of exercise can cause strain as well. Even running or intense yoga poses can cause changes in hearing. And any exercise in a gym setting can bring the risk of hearing loss. The crashing weights and loud music which have become the norm in gyms everywhere can lead to irreversible noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.
“I never actually took a sound level meter to the smashing of weights in a weight room, but it is likely that even short durations of loud intense weights dropping, can have the same potential damage to hearing as a shotgun blast or an air bag deploying,” said Rachel Raphael, M.A., CCC-A, an audiologist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and a certified group fitness instructor. “If in fact, the smashing weights are in this range for volume, it wouldn’t take much for the person at close range to suffer permanent damage, in the way of high frequency sensorineural hearing loss and/or tinnitus as a symptom secondary to the damage in the cochlea.”
Dos and don’ts for healthy hearing during exercise
No matter what form of exercise you choose, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure you are taking care of your hearing while working out.
·Do: Get a hearing check immediately if you experience any change in hearing during or after exercise.
·Do: Drop your weight down to reduce strain. Reducing the strain will reduce the intracranial pressure, and possibly prevent a PLF from occurring.
·Do: If you are noticing hearing problems during or after exercise, experiment to find the level of exercise at which you are no longer experiencing changes to your hearing.
·Do: Protect your hearing in the gym. Wear earplugs to safeguard against loud music, or keep headphones at a reasonable volume to avoid long term damage in the form of noise-induced hearing loss.
·Do: As you age, do less straining during exercise, especially in the form of heavy lifting.
·Don’t: Hold your breath to get that extra boost of strength, as holding your breath increases the pressure within the ears.
·Don’t: Strain during weight lifting.
·Don’t: Participate in sports which can result in blows to the head, such as boxing or wrestling, if you are experiencing changes in your hearing.
·Don’t: Bang the weights when weight lifting. That sudden noise can reach a level as high as 140 decibels, which is like being exposed to a gunshot or explosion.
·Don’t: Ignore symptoms, thinking they will just go away.
When to seek help
What should you look for? Symptoms such as fullness in the ears, muffled hearing or dizziness after intense exercise are definitely not normal, and should be checked out by a medical professional. So go ahead and make 2016 the year for a healthy body; just make sure to keep your hearing healthy at the same time.
From Oticon People First – BrainHearingTM – Helping the brain make sense of sound.
Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of mental decline.
Did you know that we hear with our brains, not our ears?
Surprising, perhaps, but true. Our ears simply pick up sounds and pass them to the brain. The brain then turns those sounds into meaning.
Hearing loss is a fact of life. Virtually all of us will experience it. The first sign is that it becomes harder to communicate with people. This may quickly reduce your social contact – whether you notice it or not. And social contact is a vital source of stimulation for the brain. Without it, the risk of mental decline increases. The greater the untreated hearing loss, the greater the risk of dementia.
CALL US TODAY or go to our Facebook page for all the links and more information.
Hot Weather Tips for Hearing Aid Users
HOT weather is coming. HOT weather also brings heat, humidity and air conditioning all of which can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Moisture collects in tubing, corrosion forms on contact points, and ears may produce more wax.
Water is a serious enemy of hearing aids. Moisture can destroy the microphone and the receiver of hearing aids, clog the sound opening or ear mold tubing, and cause corrosion in the hearing aids. Moisture in the hearing aids can cause a static sound or can cause the hearing aids to operate intermittently or not at all. Moisture comes from a variety of sources including perspiration, high humidity, and direct submersion in water. To avoid the damaging effects of moisture, follow these tips:
- Be particularly careful when wearing hearing aids outdoors in wet and rainy weather. Use an umbrella or hat when it is raining.
- Ensure that your hair and ears are dry before you put on your hearing aids.
- If perspiration is excessive, avoid wearing hearing aids during strenuous activity particularly in hot, humid weather.
- If the hearing aids get wet, it is important to remove the battery promptly and let the hearing aids dry out for several hours. If you have a Dri-Aid kit, use it to facilitate drying of the hearing aids.
- Do not use a hot air dryer, oven, clothes dryer, microwave, or other source of heat to dry hearing aids.
Excessive heat can damage your hearing aids. Avoid storing your hearing aids near summertime sources of heat such as a sunny window in your home or your car, or outdoors on a glass topped patio table.
Hearing aids tend to gather bacteria and other microbes more readily during the summer months. An anti-microbial product that can be applied to the hearing aids every few days helps kill off infection causing microbes.
IMPORTANT: Hearing aid batteries are toxic. Keep them away from children and pets, as they are harmful if swallowed. Here are some helpful tips for the care and use of your hearing aid batteries:
- Always carry extra batteries for your hearing aids as batteries tend to die quickly, sometimes unexpectedly
- Do not keep extra batteries loose in your pocket or purse with other coins or metal objects
- Store batteries in a drawer, not in the refrigerator
- For longer battery life especially during the hot and humid months of summer, open the battery compartment or remove the battery from your hearing aids every night
- Do not remove the tab on the hearing aid battery until you plan to use the battery
- Watch for corrosion on the battery. If you notice a white powdery substance on the battery, replace it immediately. Also, check the battery contacts within the hearing aid to assure they are free of corrosion
- Battery contacts may be dried with a dry cotton swab in cases of humid weather or heavy perspiration
We hope these tips about caring for your hearing aids during HOT weather will help you to keep them clean and in proper working order this summer.
Call (08) 9388 8003 / 1800 888 196