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.
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.
Contributed by Lauren Clason, staff writer for Healthy Hearing | Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Some dogs will eat anything they can get their paws on: your child’s box of crayons, a forgotten Pop-Tart, the baseboards, or the grease can underneath the grill. Needless to say, their diet isn’t always what it should be, so it’s important to recognize the hazards hearing aids and hearing aid batteries pose to your pet’s health.
Hearing aids are easy enough to swallow and the batteries can pose a significant health risk to anyone or any animal that ingests them. Dogs have been known to chew on and swallow hearing aids, particularly if they’ve shown any interest in or annoyance from the whistling or electronic sounds that a hearing aid emits. Cats could mistake them for a toy and bat them around the house.
If your pet has swallowed hearing aid batteries, there are several symptoms to look for:
•Red and raw tongue, or whitish-gray from dead skin,
•Heavy drooling or vomiting,
•Unusually quiet behaviour or crying, and
•Refusal to eat or extremely slow chewing.
These symptoms can be delayed up to twelve hours. When a dog or cat punctures a battery, the corrosive liquid inside can damage its throat and oesophagus. Charlotte Means, a veterinary toxicologist with the ASPCA, says small amounts of milk can help dilute the liquid if the ingestion was recent. Too much, on the other hand, can cause diarrhoea.
The safest course of action, of course, is to take your pet to the vet. If there are pieces of the hearing aid or battery present in the stomach, surgery may be necessary. Alkaline batteries can cause burns on the tongue, throat and stomach lining. Immediate action is necessary once you’ve discovered your pet has swallowed a battery.
Besides the health risks, there are financial factors to consider. Hearing aids are expensive enough without throwing in the cost of a veterinarian bill; each one can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. That’s expensive catnip!
Be sure not to leave your hearing aids or batteries out where your pet can get them. Store hearing aids in a secure place out of reach of your pet. Proper storage includes drawers, cabinets and other containers that are closed and inaccessible to both pets and children. Do not leave them out on counters or nightstands where they could be easily knocked off or gobbled up by a furry friend.
Also, make a point of disposing any old hearing aid batteries properly once you replace them. Some businesses offer battery recycling programs. Keep them away from extreme heat and do not dispose of them in a fire, as they could explode and release toxic material.
Due diligence will prevent your pet from a lot of pain and an unwanted trip to the emergency room. While hearing aid manufacturers strive to make their products as safe as possible for everyone, including children and pets, the devices are still small and contain hazardous materials. The majority of batteries today do not contain mercury, but they are still dangerous if swallowed.
If your hearing aid is properly stored, your dog won’t have to learn the hard way that batteries aren’t treats.