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Ear Wax & Hearing Aids

2018-12-30

I am constantly looking in ears checking to see if ear canals are clear and that I can visibly see a shining translucent eardrum. Unfortunately, on many occasions, I can't because the ears have excess cerumen AKA ear wax. Some people are aware that they produce extra wax and they routinely have their ears flushed while others have no idea what needs to be done.

The first thing I will point out is DO NOT use cotton swabs as you will push the wax in further. Also, please please please do NOT candle your ears. Ear Candling does not work and is dangerous and Health Canada advises against. 

Here is what you need to do to have the cerumen removed. First, a Hearing Aid Practitioner, Audiologist or other health professional has to look in your ears with their otoscope to see if you have impacted cerumen. Once you have been told your ears are blocked you can go to your family doctor or a walk-in-clinic to have your ears flushed. If you go to a walk-in-clinic I must caution you though that your doctor may fire you as a patient for going somewhere else. Sound crazy? I thought so too but have met three people who told me their doctors have let them go as patients because they went to a walk-in clinic. So do your due diligence and make sure your doctor is okay with this. We all know how difficult it is finding a doctor today.

Before you have your ears flushed you should put oil in your ears for five nights prior to your appointment. This helps soften the wax so it's easy to remove. Some people have a misconception that putting oil in the ears will remove the wax. The oil softens the wax which makes it easier to remove. You can use any oil that is in your cupboard at home. You do not need to go and buy any special oil for your ears. However, I do like the spray oils just for the fact that they are easier to use. Generously insert the oil in your ears at bedtime. Add cotton in your ears and put an old towel on your pillow in case any oil comes out. If you use a food-based oil make sure you rinse it out each morning.

Cerumen (ear wax) is meant to come out naturally throughout the day. For those who wear hearing aids, this natural process is unable to happen because the hearing aids are blocking the cerumen in the canal. The reason I say it's a nuisance for hearing aid wearers is that it can block the sound from coming out of the speaker. A simple cleaning or tubing change can fix this however it takes getting used to. I have had many phone calls where people think their hearing aids are broken when in fact they just need to be cleaned.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who produce a lot of wax and you wear hearing aids I advise you have your ears flushed on a regular basis. You might have to go every 3 or 6 months. Try and stay on top of it before your ears are blocked and before the hearing aids become blocked too.

Otoscopy
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