Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a gray, orange or yellow material made in the ear canal. It cleans and protects the ears from bacteria, dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. In normal conditions, wax works its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally. However, when there is a build-up of wax, there are many ways to remove it. Some are safe, and some are not. Let’s review best practices for dealing with earwax.
Do understand that earwax is normal. If it does not block the ear canal or impede your hearing, it can be left as is.
Do know the symptoms of earwax build-up. These include decreased hearing, ear fullness, ringing in the ears, and changes to hearing aid functionality (distortion, etc.).
Do seek medical help if you experience a change in hearing, ringing, or fullness in your ears, and/or ear pain. Other conditions may exhibit symptoms like earwax build-up, such as ear infections. See a medical professional to rule these out if you experience any of the previously mentioned signs.
Do ask a medical professional prior to using at-home remedies to remove earwax. Certain medical conditions can make some at-home remedies unsafe.
Don’t clean your ears too much. Overcleaning can cause irritation or infection of the ear canal and can even cause the wax to build up.
Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Avoid using cotton swabs, bobby pins, keys, paper clips, etc. to clean or scratch your ears. These can cause damage to your ear canal — such as a cut, or even puncture of the eardrum — which can lead to many other issues.
Don’t use ear candles. Studies have shown ear candling does not reduce the amount of wax in individuals’ ear canals. Additionally, ear candling can damage the ear canal and eardrum.
Don’t forget to clean your hearing aids as recommended by your hearing healthcare professional.
As a busy Audiologist with over 26 years’ experience and running Lakeland Hearing a private hearing clinic, I have seen a lot of ears and a lot of ear wax. One of the most common questions asked is “How can I get rid of wax?”.
Well, a healthy ear does produce wax and for good reason; wax traps and dust or dirt that might get down into the ear and damage it, and it is slightly antibacterial, it helps keep the ear healthy. So we don’t always want to get rid of it. Left to itself, the ear will naturally clean itself.
However, when wax builds up to a level that it is blocking our hearing and causing discomfort, or getting in the way of wearing a hearing aid properly, it does need to be removed, but how?
Do you remember the saying “Never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear”? A lot of the problems with wax come from too much or the wrong type of cleaning. Pushing anything into our ears often pushes the wax further down making the problem worse, so that rules out cotton buds, hair grips, keys, end of combs – yes I’ve seen it all!
The first type of treatment with a small amount of too much wax is to use drops. Normal olive oil [just a little, you’re not making a salad!] often softens the wax enough to allow it come out by itself.
But, if you wear a hearing aid, you don’t want an oily, waxy ear as that could block the hearing aid and stop it working that means you may need your ears cleaning out more regularily.
In the past, the most common way to get rid of too much wax was to have them syringed, where warm water is carefully rinsed into the ear canal and washes the wax out. I do use this method when it’s the right choice.
A more modern, safer and effective new way of removing wax is with a tiny suction device that gently vacuums up the wax, without the need for water. This is precise and is safe for people who can’t have their ears washed out [syringed] perhaps because of a perforated ear drum.
Another common question is “How often should I get my ears cleaned?”. Again, that depends on you. For some people it’s every 9 months, others go years, and for some lucky souls, they never need it doing. But when it does need doing and once your ears are wax free and ‘squeaky clean’, the benefit can be dramatic, suddenly the world becomes a noisy place again.
Bruce Springsteen becomes an ambassador for conscious hearing
Cision PRWeb reports that the Hear the World Foundation has a new ambassador who needs no introduction: Bruce Springsteen.
The Hear the World Foundation is a Swiss charitable foundation that supports people in need, and particularly children with hearing loss. Springsteen will be an ambassador for conscious hearing and will support the non-profit organization’s hearing loss prevention campaign.
Bruce Springsteen has had one of the music industry’s longest recording careers – over 40 years. He has released 18 studio albums, won 20 Grammy awards and an Oscar, and has been inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Springsteen joins some 100 celebrities (musicians, models and actors) who have agreed to support the effort to bring hearing healthcare to those in need. Other high-profile ambassadors include Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, and Sting.
Founded in 2006 by Sonova, the Hear the World Foundation has supported over 80 projects on all 5 continents. It has provided financial resources, donated hearing solutions, and launched training projects for local workers in audiology.
Examples of the foundation’s work include efforts such as awareness campaigns, charity events, and the sale of the Hear the World calendar. The calendar features the organization’s celebrity ambassadors. These projects aim to help raise global awareness about hearing healthcare and to support children in need with hearing loss, enabling them to develop at an appropriate rate for their age.
Hearing aids represent a significant investment in our ability to communicate and connect with those around us. Take care of your hearing aids by following these simple tips, and they should provide life-changing benefits for years to come!
Do wear your hearing aids every day, for at least 10 to 12 hours a day.
Do open the battery door of hearing aids every night to let the device air out and extend the life of the batteries.
Do clean your hearing aids every morning by wiping off the microphone and receiver (speaker) with a soft cloth.
Do have spare batteries with you at all times.
Do contact your hearing healthcare professional with any questions or concerns. They are there to help.
Don’t wear your hearing aids in the shower or while swimming.
Don’t let others wear your hearing aids.
Don’t apply hair spray, gel or dry shampoo while wearing your hearing aids.
Don’t store your hearing aids in the bathroom.
Don’t try to repair your hearing aids yourself.
For more tips, speak to Lakeland Hearing who will be only too glad to help.
Our hearing aids become an extension of ourselves. As we travel for fun and work, here are some things to remember to make sure we always get the best use from our hearing aids.
Do have extra batteries with you always.
Do bring a dry aid kit particularly if you are traveling near water (beach, ocean, lake, etc.).
Do wear your hearing aids through TSA and put assistive devices through x-ray screening.
Do carry all hearing aid supplies (batteries, charging stations, accessories etc.) on the plane with you.
Do set up an area for your hearing aid supplies/accessories when you get to your destination.
Don’t take your hearing aids off or leave them at home because you are concerned about how difficult it will be. The more you wear your hearing aids the better you will do!
Don’t turn off your hearing aids or their wireless features on a plane. The FAA exempts devices like hearing aids and pacemakers because they don’t emit signals that might interfere with aircraft controls.
Don’t forget your cleaning tools (cloth, brush, wax guards, etc.).
Don’t forget your accessories, like your remote microphone. Accessories will make your vacation more enjoyable.
Don’t keep your hearing loss a secret. Let flight attendants and travel companions know that you have hearing loss — and be willing to ask for assistance.
For more tips, speak to Lakeland Hearing who will be only too glad to help.
That’s a great question, and a complicated one to answer! Hearing loss can be caused by a multitude of things: some are preventable and some are not. For me to write about everything that can cause hearing loss — and then all the ways to avoid each cause — would make for a very long blog post. We will save that for another day.
Instead, I am going to write about what you can do to avoid the second-leading cause of hearing loss — noise-induced hearing loss.
Did you know that one in four U.S. adults have noise-induced hearing loss? That’s a lot of people (at least 40 million)! The good news is that you can protect your hearing in most situations. And if you practice good hearing protection, not only do you increase your chances of avoiding noise-induced hearing loss, it will go a long way towards helping you avoid age-related hearing loss, which is the number one cause of hearing loss.
Here are a few ways to protect your hearing (and help avoid hearing loss):
Minimize your exposure to loud noises
This is the best way to avoid hearing loss. How do you know what’s too loud? Environments where you have to raise your voice to talk to other people, where you can't hear what people nearby are saying, where the noise hurts your ears or, really, where any noise exceeds 85 decibels are too loud.
Not sure how to measure decibel levels? Download Starkey’s SoundCheck app for your Apple or Android devices and use it to measure the decibel level of any environment you’re in.
Wear hearing protection
There are times when you are put into loud situations or environments and you simply can’t avoid them. These include certain work environments, sporting events, concerts, bars/clubs, mowing your lawn, etc. In those situations, you should use hearing protection.
Hearing protection comes in a variety of different styles including ear plugs, custom plugs, “earmuffs” and more. Read about the best earplugs to wear at concerts.
Watch the volume
With the way technology is advancing these days, almost everyone has something in their ears. Consider investing in higher quality earphones that block out background noise, to help you moderate your listening levels in noisier places.
Also, the general rule of thumb to use when setting your volume is: You should be able to hear and converse with a person arm’s length away from you easily. If you cannot, then it is too loud.
Buy quieter products
You probably never think about how loud some of your household products are. Some products such as children’s toys, blenders and hair dryers. can get louder than 100 decibels! That means that it would take less than 15 minutes of use for you to damage your hearing. I justified buying a fancy new hair dryer because of how loud my old hair dryer was. Go here to see 18 everyday sounds that can hurt your hearing.
There are other decisions or changes you can make in your life to help avoid hearing loss, including:
Don’t put anything in your ear
As discussed in a previous blog, your ears naturally clean themselves. By putting products in your ears, you can cause infections and or actually puncture your ear drum, which can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Research studies have shown a positive correlation between smoking and hearing loss. It’s better just to say no.
Keep a healthy diet
Other research studies show that women who maintain a healthy diet have reduced risk/rates of moderate to severe hearing loss compared to women who do not eat healthy.
Get your hearing tested
Having your hearing tested regularly is a great way to know how your auditory system is working. By getting your hearing tested regularly, you will be able to monitor your hearing easily, know if any changes are occurring, and treat any hearing loss early, before it gets to be a problem.
Nothing is guaranteed to prevent hearing loss. But the advice above should help you avoid it, or at least put it off for as long as possible.
For more advice, or to have your hearing tested, contact Lakeland Hearing today.
Starkey’s headquarters are in Minnesota — home to long, white winters. Maybe that’s why spring has always felt like the perfect metaphor for what life is like when you treat hearing loss with hearing aids. And we aren’t just talking about the ability to hear birds.
A recent email we got from John in New Jersey hit the nail on the head. He wrote, “Each morning, my world comes alive when putting on my Starkey hearing aids!”
Hear your world come alive by trying a Starkey hearing aid from Lakeland Hearing.
One of the first things people with hearing loss observe is 'I hear people fine, but I don’t understand what they are saying.'
This is a consistent complaint of individuals who are experiencing the effects of a “sloping high frequency hearing loss.“
What’s happening and why do so many have this complaint?
Hearing loss involves not only our ears, but also our brain: where sound waves are coded by the ears and then translated into meaningful words. While hearing loss can present itself in varying degrees of severity in different frequencies, a very common progression of inner ear hearing loss is sloping high frequency hearing loss.
We commonly measure hearing from 250 to 8000 Hz. Individuals with “high frequency” hearing loss have no loss at frequencies below 1000 Hz (lower pitched frequencies), but have abnormal results in the range of 1000 to 8000 Hz (higher pitched frequencies). High frequency hearing loss is one of the most common variances of hearing loss there is.
An audiogram of what sloping, high-frequency hearing loss looks like
Different speech signals produce different frequencies
When examining human speech signals, we see that there are lower pitched sounds or vowels (A, E, I, O and U) and higher pitched sounds or consonants (S,F , Th, Sh, Ch, K, P and H). Being able to hear vowels in the lower pitched frequencies gives us a sensation of hearing speech, but not being able to hear higher pitched sound or “consonants” is what compromises our ability to understand full words. (So we hear, but we don’t understand.)
The high-pitched frequencies where consonants occur is where the discrimination of different words happen. When we have high-frequency hearing loss, we lose the ability to hear the “consonant” sounds efficiently and, thus, our ability to tell the difference between words such as ‘Cat” or “Hat”.
Key sounds and letters aren’t heard clearly
Imagine having a book with every S, F, Th, Sh, Ch, K, P and H erased. You could read part of the book and understand some of it, but you would not be able to understand many key words and phrases and, as a result, be challenged to understand it. This is what is happening with a high frequency hearing loss. You can hear part of the message, however your high frequency loss has “erased” the key sounds or letters needed for discrimination and understanding.
Luckily, high frequency hearing loss can usually be helped with proper diagnosis and appropriate amplification. Plus, now with the transcribe feature on our new Livio AI hearing aids, you can transcribe a conversation into text, to help ensure you never miss a word or phrase again.