At Custom Hearing Solutions, most of the hearing loss we see is permanent noise and age related hearing loss, but it is also important to remember that sometimes a hearing issue can be temporary. An example of this is hearing loss that is caused by excessive or impacted earwax and it is more common than you may think.
What Is Earwax?
The medical term for earwax is cerumen and it is a necessary part of our auditory system. Cerumen is produced by the body and its sticky, greasy composition easily attracts any dust, dirt or debris that makes it into our ear canal. For most people, old earwax is gradually worked from the inside to the outside of the ear by the muscle and bone movements in our jaw when we chew or speak. Our inner ears are essentially self-cleaning, as cerumen is slowly being produced and worked through the ear canal.
Most people produce just the right amount of earwax for their auditory system, and effectively move old earwax out of the ear. However, for some people excessive earwax is an issue and it can become more of a concern as we age. Excessive earwax if not detected and removed can block the ear canal and even become impacted making hearing difficult.
Buildup of excessive earwax is found in about one in ten children. In adulthood, the risk of excessive earwax issues increases to about one in every five people. In aging populations, earwax problems are quite common, affecting about one in every three older adults. Research is now showing that the rate of earwax issues in aging adults in assisted living may be as high as double that number, with two out of every three adults dealing with unaddressed waxy buildup.
A Preventable Problem
While muffled hearing is usually restored when ear canal blockages are removed, when earwax-related hearing loss is left unaddressed it can have the same risks and consequences as permanent hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss is linked to cognitive issues and falling accidents and it is now being shown that earwax-related hearing loss is similarly harmful.
The fact is, whether or not the untreated hearing loss is temporary or permanent, the experience of living with compromised hearing is similar. Untreated hearing loss makes it difficult to navigate and respond to the environment around you. It can isolate you from friends and family and keep you from enjoying even your most favorite activities.
The rate at which excess hearing loss is being detected at assisted living facilities points towards the need for better screening and care for aging adults. Through expanding preventative care in residential facilities, it is possible to lower accidental injuries and greatly increase a resident’s quality of life. Making ear and hearing exams a regular part of patient care can help guarantee that earwax problems are not left undetected and unaddressed.
Part of the answer may lie in mobile hearing services that specialize in in-house care for assisted living residents. Through annual ear and hearing checkups earwax issues can be detected before they become they cause larger problems.
Removing excess earwax is usually straightforward, but should be done by a health provider. A hearing specialist will use an instrument called an otoscope to look into the ear canal and detect any blockage that may be occurring. Inserting fingers or implements into the ear canal to remove earwax is never advised and can cause unintentional damage.
Excessive earwax can usually be dislodged using warm water or ear drops. Sterile saline solution may also soften impacted wax. A health worker can then flush excess earwax away or use a tiny, blunt scoop called a curette to further loosen the cerumen. For adults with excessive earwax, using ear drops periodically may help lessen the problem and keep the ear canal clear.
Custom Hearing Solutions
No matter what the cause is, hearing issues always deserve your attention. Whether the solution lies in removing impacted earwax or looking into treating permanent hearing damage with hearing aids, Custom Hearing Solutions helps you find answers and connect with solutions. Healthy hearing benefits your whole body and lets you live life to its fullest.
Nothing could be easier than a hearing exam with Custom Hearing Solutions. We value every patient’s individual needs and lifestyle and make it an integral part of delivering the right care, every time. Have questions? Call us today!