Impacted Ear Wax Can Cause Hearing Loss In The Elderly
by Alan S. Berger, M.D. | Sep 29, 2018 | Earwax
Ear wax is generally considered to be something that is easily removed from the ears, but it can be difficult for the elderly in whom it may cause additional health problems if it becomes impacted. The countrys leading otolaryngology association has sounded the alert that ear wax in the elderly needs to be checked regularly because if it goes undetected it can contribute to additional health problems such as hearing impairment.Ear wax performs an important function in protecting the ear. It collects dead skin, dirt and other particles and usually comes out of the ear naturally. However, in some cases the ear wax becomes lodged in the ear canal and, instead of exiting the ear, it blocks the canal partially or completely. This can impair hearing and cause other health problems.
For the elderly, when ear wax blocks the ear canal it can become a classic slippery slope because it can cause hearing loss which can then lead to cognitive decline. For those with dementia, the inability to hear can lead to behavioral issues and worsen cognitive decline.
For these reasons and more, the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery issued a new Clinical Practice Guideline regarding ear wax and its potential to become impacted. According to the AAO, more than one-third of the geriatric population has excessive or impacted ear wax that is underdiagnosed and likely undertreated.
- Hearing loss
Home Remedies For Removing Earwax Build
If the eardrum doesnt contain a tube or have a hole, then these self-care measures may help to remove excess earwax that is blocking the ear canal:
- Soften the wax: Use an eyedropper to apply a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin in the ear canal
- Use warm water: After a day or two, when the Stone Hard Ear Wax gets soft, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently squirt warm water into the ear canal. Then tilt your head and pull the outer ear up and back to straighten the ear canal. When finished irrigating, tip your head to the side to let the water drain out.
- Dry your ear canal: When finished, gently dry the outer ear with a towel or hand-held dryer.
The softening agents may loosen the outer layer of the wax and cause it to lodge deeper in the ear canal or against the eardrum. Thus, if your symptoms dont improve after a few treatments, then see the doctor.
Earwax Buildup And Hearing Loss Is There Any Link
Does Earwax Buildup Cause Hearing loss?
Your body naturally produces earwax, also known as cerumen, to protect the ears. Ear wax has antimicrobial and lubricating properties. An earwax obstruction is, in fact, the most prevalent cause of reduced hearing or temporary hearing impairment. When wax accumulates up to a certain level, it can become trapped in place and function as a barrier, preventing sound from reaching the inner ear as it should.
Many people have lots of concerns regarding earwax and they often ask us the following questions:
Does earwax cause hearing loss?
Does earwax buildup cause hearing loss?
Can earwax blockage cause permanent hearing loss?
Does ear wax blockage cause hearing loss?
And many more.
Yes, earwax can lead to a decreased hearing in the affected ear, but to a what extent
Let us explore
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Your Earwax Says A Lot About You
Although most everyones ears produce earwax, thats where the similarity ends. Its composition varies from person to person, depending on their ethnicity, environment, age and diet.
There are two primary types of earwaxwet and dry:
- Wet cerumen is more common in Caucasians and Africans
- Dry cerumen is more common among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians
Even the color of your cerumen can say a lot about you.
- Dark brown or black colored earwax is typically older, so its color comes from the dirt and bacteria it has trapped. Adults tend to have darker, harder earwax.
- Dark brown earwax that is tinged with red may signal a bleeding injury.
- Light brown, orange or yellow earwax is healthy and normal. Children tend to have softer, lighter-colored earwax.
- White, flaky earwax indicates you lack a body-odor producing chemical. Dark-colored, sticky earwax indicates you should probably use deodorant.
Seeking Help From A Hearing Care Professional
There are many ways in which a hearing care professional might be able to help you if you have a problem with earwax buildup or hearing loss caused by earwax buildup. They carry out the procedures that remove earwax safely all the time, so theres no reason why they cant do the same for you.
If youre experiencing the symptoms above and you think your hearing is deteriorating, you should go out of your way to seek help from a hearing care professional. Theyll be able to get to the bottom of the problem and provide a treatment that fixes it.
If you have noticed a buildup of wax in your ears, talk with a hearing care professional at our office to find out more about your treatment options. Well be able to help you find out if the hearing loss is being caused by earwax buildup and, most importantly, what can be done about it going forward. Contact us today to talk with our professionals at one of our convenient locations:
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When To See Your Gp
Contact your GP surgery if you have particularly troublesome symptoms or eardrops haven’t helped after three to five days.
Your GP or practice nurse will look inside your ears to check if they’re blocked and might carry out some simple hearing tests.
They may suggest using eardrops for a bit longer, or they may carry out a minor procedure called ear irrigation to clean out your ear canal.
If these treatments aren’t suitable or don’t help, your GP may refer you to the ENT department of your nearest hospital for more specialised treatments such as microsuction or an aural toilet.
Does Earwax Need To Be Removed
Usually, there’s no need to remove earwax because it comes out by itself. Sticking anything into a child’s ears raises the risk of infection or damage to the ear canal or eardrum. Cotton swabs are handy for a variety of grooming needs, but should not be used to remove earwax. In most cases, regular bathing is enough to keep it at healthy levels.
While some people have more earwax than others, in general the ear makes as much wax as it needs. Rarely, kids’ ears do make too much earwax. And sometimes earwax can build up and block the ear canal, especially when pushed in by a finger, cotton swab, or other object. This is called “impaction.” If it affects hearing or causes pain or discomfort, a doctor can remove it.
Parents and kids shouldn’t attempt to remove earwax at home, even with remedies that promise to be safe and effective. Doing so risks damage to the ear canal and, possibly, a child’s hearing.
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Can Earwax Cause Hearing Loss Learn About 4 Surprising Consequences Of Earwax
Despite how unpleasant many people think earwax is, it can actually be good for your ear. Ear wax, also called cerumen, is a naturally occurring substance secreted by the ear canal. It helps protect, lubricate and disinfect your ears with its antibacterial properties.
Some earwax can be beneficial, but too much can cause problems. An ear canal clogged with earwax can lead to unexpected problems, some of which dont directly involve the ears.
The type of earwax you have matters, too. The drier your earwax is, the less likely it is to reach your outer ear on its own. Dry earwax is much more likely to cause a cerumen impaction. Older people have drier earwax than younger people and are at a higher degree of risk.
Here are 4 unexpected ways earwax buildup can impact your life, including potentially leading to hearing loss.
1. Chronic cough
One of the last things people might expect earwax buildup to lead to is a coughing fit. But, according to many recent studies, thats often the case.
In a 2017 submission to the editor of The American Journal of Medicine, a team of doctors confirmed what other studies had already showed: cerumen impaction and chronic cough are strongly connected.
Specifically, earwax buildup can lead to the over-stimulation of the vagus nerve in the ear canal. This is what causes coughing. In 2017 alone, over 15 cases of mysterious chronic coughs disappearing after impacted ear wax was removed.
2. Dizziness or imbalance
3. Hearing loss
4. Pain and infection
Is Ear Wax Causing My Hearing Loss
In some way or other, weve all experienced ear wax. Whether yours is gooey, flaky or crusty, ear wax is just a part of life. But what is this mysterious, golden-hued goo? Why does our body produce ear wax? Lastly, how does it impact the health of our ears and hearing?
Ear wax is medically referred to as cerumen . This normal, naturally occurring substance is secreted in the ear canalthe connection between your outer and inner ear. Ear wax is made up of secretions from the sebaceous and sweat glands, as well as sloughed off skin cells from the ear. Ear wax usually picks up a few more microscopic friends, ranging from hair, to dirt and other tiny debris as it slowly migrates to the outer ear. The waxy mixture then naturally makes the outward journey, usually nudged along jaw motions such as talking and chewing.
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How Can Hearing Loss Caused By Earwax Be Treated
Many people experience a recurrence in earwax build-up, with some needing to treat the problem every 6-8 months. As a result, some GPs recommend using ear drops, such as olive oil drops or drops from your pharmacist, on a regular basis. The aim of this treatment is to loosen and break up the compounded earwax. However, there is no strong evidence that using ear drops regularly can prevent earwax from building up.
The advice on treating excess earwax has recently changed, and your GP will be able to advise you on the best and safest course of action. You should contact your GP if you believe an earwax blockage is causing you hearing loss. Some GP practices now carry out earwax removal treatment instead of referring you to a specialist clinic. If it is not available through your local GP practice, you can book a local private appointment through Patient Access.
They may use either the irrigation method or microsuction method.
What Is Ear Wax Build
Ear canal produces a waxy oil called Cerumen, which is commonly known as Earwax. This wax protects the ear from foreign particles, dust and microorganism. It also protects ear canal skin from irritation due to water. In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally, and then is washed away.
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How To Remove Impacted Ear Wax
There are certain home remedies and Foods That Cause Ear Wax problem to reduce in causing blockage and temporary hearing loss. Most likely, the overproduction of earwax was an autoimmune response to inflammation caused by gluten.
Therefore, taking gluten-free diet may help in dealing with earwax problems. Also, following are some of the home remedies that might help.
Best Way To Remove Ear Wax: Home Remedies
Never attempt to clear out earwax buildup on your own. This can damage your ear leading to an ear infection or hearing loss. There are certain ways to get rid of the excess. Theyre also available a home treatment for removing the ear-wax safely and gently.
1) Hydrogen Peroxide in Ear
Another term used for this is hydrogen dioxide, which is generally used for the healing of the wounds. The Hydrogen Peroxide is employed by people for different things, however, it can even be effective in eliminating stuck ear wax in the ear.
To do so you must need some of the things like hydrogen peroxide in an amount of 3%, cotton balls, cotton swabs, extra-virgin olive oil, warm water, an ear dropper, a bulb aspirator, a towel, and two bowls. To make earwax removing more comfortable you have to heat the hydrogen peroxide and olive oil in the bowl.
If it is becoming more difficult in removing earwax than you should do the following things and have patience as it will take 30-40 mins.
2) Baking Soda
Baking Soda chemical term is sodium bicarbonate. It is a wide powder that is usually used for different purposes in Home. One of the best use of baking soda is to remove the ear wax. Procedure to use baking soda to remove the ear wax.
3) Coconut oil
Coconut oil is used in a wider range and it surprisingly also helps in the removal of the earwax from your ear. It contains fats known as a medium just like chain fatty acids, or MCFAs. These fats contain caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid.
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Can Earwax Cause Permanent Hearing Loss
It can be hard to imagine that cerumen buildup can cause permanent damage. But, if allowed to continue, further damage can occur and lead to permanent hearing loss. Earwax that is not removed and allowed to build up can cause trauma to the ear canal. This damage can be hastened when people remove the wax from their ears using objects like Q-tips. These objects can push the wax further into the ear or cause damage to the canal itself.
Why Do People Have Earwax
Its hard to believe something so unappealing can be so important to your ears’ good health, yet being sticky and smelly is exactly why a normal amount of ear wax is beneficial. Consider these attributes:
- Earwax is a natural barrier that prevents dirt and bacteria from entering the innermost parts of your ears. Because it is sticky, it collects microscopic debris that finds its way into your ear canal, much like fly paper traps insects. Without this defensive barrier, your inner ear would be at risk.
- It acts as a moisturizer and protective coating for your ear canal. Without earwax, your outer ear might be itchy and flaky, which puts it at greater risk for becoming irritated and infected.
- It acts as an insect repellant. The smell of earwax keeps bugs away, while the stickiness traps those that accidentally venture inside.
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Diagnosis And Treatment For Ear Wax Blockage
Your doctor can diagnose ear wax blockage by looking into your ear canal with an instrument called an otoscope.Treatment may include:
- drops to soften the ear wax and help it to fall out on its own
- the use of an ear syringe by a doctor to squirt warm water into the ear canal and float out the wax plug
- withdrawal of the wax by a doctor, using a suction device
- removal of the wax by a doctor, using forceps or a special hook
- large quantities of hardened wax may need to be treated by an ear specialist.
Recommended Techniques For Earwax Removal
There are many ways to remove wax, such as wax softening drops and ear irrigation. You may want to research the validity and safety of any non-medical methods of removing wax. It is important to note that often these methods can do more harm than good, particularly if you have had an ear injury or a medical procedure done on your ear in the past. For example, some may be surprised to learn that Q-tips are not recommended for your ear canal. In any case, before moving forward with an at home ear cleaning tool, please consult with a hearing loss professional.
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Earwax Advice From The Mayo Clinic
We found great information to share when we googled can earwax cause hearing loss and clicked on Mayo. Mayo says we should be careful of assuming we have earwax hearing loss and other symptoms, and trying to clear it ourselves.
They quite strongly recommend consulting a health professional before taking chances with our precious hearing. For all we know we may have an underlying medical condition that syringing our ears could make worse.
The best person to clear earwax build up bad for hearing is your family doctor. This is especially, even vitally important if you had eardrum surgery, or grommets fitted to drain water from your inner ear.
What Should You Do If You Have Trouble Hearing
Hearing loss can affect people of different ages, both young and old. In general, people are more susceptible to hearing loss as they age due to a natural decline in their hearing or due to life events such as extended noise exposure or traumatic injury to the head or ears. Hearing loss can occur in one ear as well as in both ears, depending on the cause of the hearing loss.
If you are worried about your hearing health, dont hesitate to contact the friendly team at Attune Hearing. With over 50 accredited clinics Australia-wide, we are passionate about helping you find the best possible solution catered to your needs and preferences. Built on a medical foundation and independent from hearing aid manufacturers, the health and well-being of our patients will always come first.
Find your local Attune clinic today and book a diagnostic hearing test to start your journey to better hearing!
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Ear Candles To Remove Earwax Blockage
Ear candles are considered an unsafe way to remove earwax build-up. This method involves putting one end of a candle inside the ear and lighting the other end in order to melt and draw out earwax. Dangers include the candle wax dripping and burning the skin, candle wax lodging in the ear, and the hot wax sticking to the eardrum and causing permanent damage and hearing loss.