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Is it a Problem of Hearing Loss or Impacted Earwax? An Audiologist Explains the Differences (and How To Treat It)

Excited to know? Is it a hearing loss problem or impacted earwax? An Audiologist Explains the Differences (and How To Treat It). “Impacted earwax is easily remediable, which is why it’s critical to rule out before purchasing a hearing aid.”

Impacted earwax is extraordinarily prevalent and becomes even more so as you age. What’s the reason? With aging, earwax becomes less pliant and more likely to become stuck. It can also cause non-permanent hearing loss, making it difficult to determine if your hearing difficulty is due to impacted wax or genuine hearing loss (or both).

So, how does one tell the difference, and why is it vital to do so? While men are nearly twice as likely as women to develop hearing loss before age 70, one in every eight women (at any age) has some difficulty hearing. Hearing loss increases the risk of social isolation, anxiety, and depression in mature adults. Diagnosing the cause of hearing loss is the first step toward improving a person’s quality of life. We spoke with Dr. Robin Carson, an audiologist at Carson Hearing Care and an Eosera expert, to discover more.

Which of the following are the most common causes of hearing loss?

Hearing Loss

A: Noise exposure, family history, disease, medicine, and, most commonly, the aging process are the most common causes of hearing loss at any age. Hearing tests are recommended for anyone over the age of 50. Our hearing, like our nerves and every other part of our body, gets less sensitive as we age. A baseline audiogram from a hearing healthcare practitioner is required to identify the following steps.

What is the difference between impacted earwax and actual hearing loss?

Hearing Loss

A: Hearing loss caused by impacted earwax frequently feels like an ear canal fullness. This sensation is occasionally accompanied by additional symptoms such as discomfort or irritation. It is easily corrected, which is why it is critical to rule out before purchasing a hearing aid. Visit a specialist or use over-the-counter equipment like a Smart Otoscope, which allows you to view your ear canal to assess if it’s only wax causing your hearing loss.

Is it safe to clean impacted earwax at home?

Hearing Loss

A: There are some excellent over-the-counter earwax treatments. Earwax MD, which dissolves wax and works in as little as 15 minutes, is my favorite to recommend to my patients. These drops are a fantastic approach to removing earwax and work exceptionally well.

Do you recommend ear candling (also known as ear coming)?

Hearing Loss

A: I’m not fond of ear coning. I’ve never seen findings that are persuasive enough to show that it works. When the wax is a concern at our office, we use drops and a flushing approach to remove it. Q-tips should be avoided when cleaning the ear canal, as they might cause more damage.

What happens when you go to an audiologist for earwax removal?

Hearing Loss

A: When patients present with earwax impaction, we first consider whether we can see the eardrum and if the problem is indeed earwax. We will test the hearing to search for other issues if no wax is present. Depending on the type of wax we find, we employ a variety of approaches at the office. We sometimes need drops to soften the wax, but flushing removes it once softened. In some circumstances, we also use a curette [a device that gently scrapes out wax]. The removal of earwax is quick and straightforward. Sometimes audiologists will send a patient home with instructions to care for themselves. Furthermore, in the discussion of whether it is a hearing loss problem or impacted earwax? An Audiologist Explains the Differences (and How To Treat It).

Why is it critical to see an audiologist regardless of the source of your hearing loss?

Hearing Loss

A: We strongly recommend a baseline audiogram for everyone over 50. Establishing a baseline to understand what changes and what is happening with an individual’s hearing over time is critical. It’s vital to see a professional since sometimes hearing loss is caused by something more severe than earwax or the aging process. A hearing care specialist is well-equipped to discover any severe underlying difficulties and mechanical ear abnormalities that would necessitate a physician referral.

It always surprises me that our local doctors do not include a baseline audiogram as part of a standard annual medical exam. Hearing healthcare professionals can rapidly determine if ear wax is the source of the problem. If not, they can proceed with audiometric testing to determine which area of the ear requires additional care. If your hearing loss is sensorineural, getting fitted with amplification as soon as possible is critical. An audiologist is highly qualified, and [an appointment] is a terrific place to learn what’s wrong with your ears and why you’re losing hearing.

If an audiologist believes that a hearing aid is required, a lot goes into the fitting and aftercare procedure to ensure everything works properly. This can be difficult for patients to conduct independently if they are unfamiliar with the process.

Can an audiologist prescribe an over-the-counter hearing aid if you need one?

Hearing Loss

A: Your provider can advise you on whether an OTC product is a viable alternative or if a prescription medication is the best option for you. There are numerous possibilities, and an auditory health care practitioner should be able to provide reasonable solutions while under their supervision.

While those with mild to moderate hearing loss may be good candidates for over-the-counter hearing aids [with or without an audiology visit], anything more serious should be handled by a specialist. It’s also critical to recognize that picking a provider is just as crucial as the gadget itself. Annual hearing monitoring and follow-up care are necessary for a favorable outcome with hearing instruments.

What should you do if your hearing aid creates earwax buildup?

Hearing Loss

A: Hearing aids (like any other ear device) might increase the likelihood of earwax impaction, irritation, and pain. Users should establish a regular earwax softening routine and relieve irritation with over-the-counter medications. There is a risk of further hearing damage if your hearing devices are not correctly fitted.

The serious ramifications of untreated hearing loss, which include cognitive decline, social isolation, and fatigue, must not be forgotten. These can be prevented or enhanced if devices are fitted appropriately and best practices from a skilled hearing healthcare provider are followed.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always with your doctor before beginning any treatment regimen.

If you want to read more about it, Is it a problem of hearing loss or impacted earwax? An Audiologist Explains the Differences (and How To Treat It). Click here.

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