How to properly clean your ears

Q: What do your ears and your oven have in common?

A: They are both self cleaning
It’s true! Your ears can clean themselves with the help of cerumen. Cerumen, the medical term for earwax, forms in the outer one-third of your ear canal, naturally migrating out of your ear with jaw movements, such as talking or chewing, to naturally clean your ears. Earwax is also thought to have protective, antibacterial and lubricant properties. Wax protects the ear by keeping debris away from the eardrum. Inserting ear cleaning or wax-removal tools can potentially push the wax further down the canal, thereby causing harm to the wall of your ear canal or eardrum. Removing ear wax can also make your ear canal feel dry and itchy because of the natural lubrication it provides.

Is it ever okay to clean your ears?
Despite the wide array of removal tools sold over the counter, the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) believes that under ideal circumstances your ears will never need to be cleaned: “Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that earwax should be routinely removed for personal hygiene. This is not so. In fact, attempting to remove ear wax with cotton-tipped swabs, bobby pins, or other probing devices can result in damage to the ear including trauma, impaction of the earwax, and changes in hearing. These objects only push wax in deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.”

How to help avoid earwax build up:
If your ears tend to produce a great deal of earwax, you can help prevent build up and impaction by using a softening agent once a week. Drops like Debrox and Murine are sold over the counter and can soften wax by allowing it to come out on its own more easily. If you feel most comfortable leaving removal to the professionals, you can schedule wax removal every 6 to 12 months with your doctor or hearing professional.

NOTE: If you have tubes in your ears, a hole in your ear, diabetes, or a weakened immune system you should contact your physician before attempting to remove wax on your own.

Signs of an impaction (earwax buildup):
An excess build-up of earwax can lead to impaction and other unpleasant symptoms including pain, infection, decrease in hearing, itching and more.

  • If you notice pain, fullness, or a plugged sensation in your ear you should see a professional to rule out wax impaction.
  • If wax blocks your ear canal you may notice a decrease in hearing, ringing, itching, odor, or an increase in coughing.

A professional trained in earwax extraction can use suction, a curette, microscope or irrigation for removal. Manual removal may be used if the ear canal is narrow, the eardrum has a hole in it, or there is a tube in the ear drum. Individuals with diabetes or weakened immune systems should be especially careful about wax removal.

Hearing aids and earwax
Earwax can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Some hearing aid wearers report an increase in earwax production when they begin wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids can stimulate the glands in the ear canal to produce more wax and block the normal migration of wax from the ear canal. More importantly, earwax can clog a hearing aid’s microphones and receivers, impairing quality and performance. This is why cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids is so important. Your hearing care professional will demonstrate how to properly clean and maintain your hearing aids. Find a NuEar hearing care professional today!

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This blog originally appeared on http://www.starkey.com by Dr. Beth McCormick.

Overcoming the Stigma of Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

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Chances are you know someone with hearing loss. In the United States alone, over 34 million people, roughly 1 in 10, have some level of hearing impairment. Hearing loss not only affects the individual who has hearing loss but those around them as well. Hearing loss can adversely affect your ability to interact with the world around you, leading to embarrassment, social isolation, negative workplace outcomes and relational stress.

The good news is that 95 percent of hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids. Yet fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss choose to do anything about it. So why don’t more people seek hearing help?

People usually suffer needlessly for several years before they look for hearing help. A study published in 2010 by Margaret I. Wallhagen, Ph.D., found that the perceived stigma associated with hearing loss negatively impacts an individual’s initial acceptance of it and whether or not they choose to wear hearing aids.

The study found that hearing loss stigma is directly related to three main factors: alteration in self-perception, ageism, and vanity. Unfortunately, just the idea of wearing hearing aids was found to negatively change self-perception for participants in the study, even before they actually tried them. The study also found that the negative associations were markedly diminished after they tried hearing aids which were discreet and unnoticeable.

The stigma associated with hearing loss and hearing aids often prevents a person from seeking hearing help. Typically, the same people that worry needlessly are pleased to find that there are many discreet, customizable options and that they greatly improve quality of life.

How can you break the stigma of hearing loss? Here are four things you can do:

  • Get your hearing tested annually and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
  • If you have a hearing loss, treat it. Contact a local professional today and they can find the best fit for your hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
  • Wear your hearing aids. Our NuEar professionals know that getting new hearing aids can be an adjustment, which is why they are here to help you every step of the way through your hearing journey.
  • Speak up about your hearing loss. Being vocal about your own hearing loss will gradually lower the stigma for others.

Don’t let the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids prevent you from living life to the fullest. Investing in better hearing should be a priority! If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulties, don’t wait – contact a local professional for a hearing evaluation. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to hear your very best.

Welcome to Hearing Independence

We believe that hearing is unique and special and that no matter your age, being able to hear should give you the freedom to live life to the fullest! This belief is called Hearing Independence and it guides everything we do at NuEar. It’s not only what our Partners strive to provide to each person who walks through their doors, it’s what makes us different from other hearing healthcare providers.

NuEar providers are in your community and are locally owned and operated. We put others before ourselves, commit to improving every life we touch and aren’t afraid of putting in the hard work needed to make our patients happy. We believe that by helping our fellow community members hear better, we improve their lives AND the community as a whole. Patients who visit one of our offices around the nation leave hearing loss woes behind and see family relationships grow tighter, experience social interactions become smoother, and feel that safety is improved and misunderstandings are minimized.

We know that a community of confident, vibrant and engaged people is one where there is unlimited potential, which is why we’ve started another community, an online community, with the NuEar blog! Join us as we regularly post about various hearing topics including patient testimonials and better hearing insights. In addition, we’ll highlight product technology and advances in patient care programs to demonstrate how we hold ourselves to the highest level of quality. Because at the end of the day, NuEar is built the American way, which means we promise to do whatever it takes to send patients home happy and hearing well. We know the time for Hearing Independence is now, and we know that you’re ready!