Related Help Pages: Hearing aids Fitting Cleaning Repairs

How Do I Clean Wax in my Ears to Protect my Hearing Aids?

You may not be able to keep your ears clean enough to keep wax out of your hearing aid and you should avoid trying to clean your ears with cotton swabs.

Many people clean their ears with cotton swabs without any problem. But cotton swabs are the #1 cause of wax impaction, #1 cause of itchy ears, and an avoidable cause of tympanic membrane (eardrum) perforation.

Cerumen, or earwax, is generated in the outer third of your ear canal where it protects your ear. If you push a cotton swab into this passage, some of the cerumen will adhere to the swab, but some will be pushed deeper into your ear. Do this enough and the wax gets jam-packed deep in your ear canal.

Boy, it feels good to scratch your ear canal with that swab, doesnt it? Repeated cleaning with a Q-tip not only takes the protective layer of cerumen off of the skin, it removes the top layer of skin and irritates the nerve endings within the skin. This makes your ear itch and makes you ear canal dry and prone to infection.

Here is what often happens to cause a perforated eardrum: the person was cleaning his/her ear with a cotton swab in the bathroom with the door closed. A family member opens the door, hits the persons elbow with the door, and jams the swab into the eardrum where it can cause permanent damage. Ouch.

So, how do you clean your ears? Cover your finger with a handkerchief or washcloth, and wipe what you can get with your finger. Do not worry about cleaning down inside the ear canal. In most people, it is self-cleaning. And I consider a clean ear one with at least some wax.

How about keeping it out of your hearing aid? Wax will find its way into your hearing aid and, for people that produce of lot of wax, it can cause problems. Ask your audiologist about ways to clean the wax from the hearing aid. And you might set up a recurring appointment every six or so months to clean excessive wax from your ears and hearing aids. Also, some hearing aids are not harmed as much by wax as other types. You might consider getting a style of aid that can stand up to the wax better.

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