Solving Difficulty With Hearing Could Be As Simple As Good Ear Hygiene
According to Helix Hearing Care, your problems with hearing may not be due to medical or genetic causes of deafness; but rather, it could be a simple matter of poor ear hygiene. Here’s what you should consider first about your declining hearing before worrying about whether you are going deaf.
A few facts about earwax:
1. Earwax consists primarily of fatty secretions of the sebaceous glands and sweat glands formed within the outer ear canal walls.
2. When you chew, talk or stimulate jaw movements, these secretions move through the outer ear canal picking up dead skin cells along the way resulting in the typical yellowish ear wax we’ve all seen.
3. Earwax serves a useful purpose in helping the ear canal clean itself by picking up dirt, dust and other debris along with the dead skin cells.
4. Earwax also has antifungal and antibacterial properties to help keep the inner ear healthy.
5. A small amount of earwax is normal; however, too much earwax can result in a blockage in the ear canal where you may experience ear infections, ear aches, and other problems. In fact, it can also stimulate branches of a vagus nerve supplying the outer ear, leading to coughing. In its most extreme cases, however, excessive earwax can lead to hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three common types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss is a type due to loss of inner ear hair cells or fibers of the auditory nerve. Hair cells vibrate in response to sound waves, sending signals along the auditory nerve to the brain. When either the hair cells or the nerve fibers become damaged, sounds tend to be muted or distorted, making it difficult to hear spoken language clearly. In most cases sensorineural hearing loss is considered a permanent condition
Conductive hearing loss occurs when something prevents sound waves from moving from the outer to middle or inner ear. Causes of this type include:
• Fluid in the middle ear
• A hole in the eardrum
• Birth defects
• A noncancerous skin growth behind the eardrum
• Physical objects such as a tiny bead or pieces of cotton swabs stuck in the ear canal
• A build-up of earwax
Mixed hearing loss is simply just a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
What To Do When You Suspect Your Earwax Might Be A Problem
Regardless of the hearing type loss you may be experiencing, your physician will take down your medical history, ask you a few questions about your current medical status, and will shortly after examine your ear canal to see if the cause of your hearing problem is due to simple wax buildup or blockage of some sort. Oftentimes, patients are the cause of their own wax buildup and blockage problems by using cotton tipped swabs incorrectly.
While it is preferable to have a medical professional clear excessive earwax away from your ear canal, when done properly, most patients are capable of at least doing a simple rinse of their ear canal before deciding to seek the help of a medical professional.
Removing Earwax Yourself
Do not use cotton swabs to remove earwax, as this can push the wax further into your ear. Rather, use a water-soaked cotton ball, mixed with a saline solution and plug it into the ear canal. While doing this, tilt your head in such a way that the ear opening is pointed upwards. This helps to pull the fluid down to the wax. After a few minutes of soaking your ear canal with the saline solution, tilt your head in such a way that the ear opening faces the ground to allow the fluid and the wax to drain.
You can also get OTC (over-the-counter) ear drops for breaking up earwax that comes with a bulb syringe to help administer the ear drop solution. However, take note that a bulb syringe increases the risk of making the problem worse. Furthermore, bulb syringes should not be used for suspected damaged eardrums. This is because an infection can arise if water or the ear drop solution gets forced into the patient's middle ear by the bulb syringe.
Another method is to soften and loosen earwax by combining an equal amount of hydrogen peroxide and water, warm to room temperature, and place 2 drops in the affected ear twice a day for up to 5 days. The wax should loosen so that it can be removed easily with an ear bulb syringe.
When Help Is Needed
In any case, if the home-methods are not helping, then it is time to seek the help of a medical professional such as through the services of Helix Hearing Care. The staff of Helix Healing will help you:
• Find a clinic
• Book an appointment
• By providing info on hearing loss
• Take an online hearing test to assess your hearing status
You can reach a representative at 1-877-319-4697 or email Helix Hearing Care at [email protected].
For more about good ear hygiene and ear health, here are a few select articles to help you maintain healthy hearing:
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash