Is it safe and easy to remove your own ear wax?
Scenario: You wake up in the morning and your ears are feeling a little plugged. You wiggle your jaw, and you can feel it in there, squeaking and shifting around. Awww…it’s ear wax! Gross!
Okay, It’s not actually “gross”. Ear wax is completely natural and it’s the body’s way of protecting you. That being said, feeling plugged up and having excessive build-up should really be dealt with. Rest assured, there is solution!
Scenario continued: You get up, wash your face, brush your teeth, and then you reach for that Q-tip. A couple of swipes on either side and you’re good to go. Right?
Not right – put that q-tip down!
One of the cardinal rules of healthy hearing care is that you should never, EVER stick a foreign object in your ear! It’s common to try to clean out what may seem like excessive ear wax with items such as cotton swabs, bobby pins or pen caps (we’ve seen it all folks!). Even with the soft end of a cotton swab, you’d be putting yourself at serious risk of giving yourself a perforated eardrum (which, while possibly resolvable through surgery, is extremely painful and will cause a temporary hearing loss).
You should never, EVER stick a foreign object in your ear.
It’s also important to keep in mind that ear wax is actually there for a reason. It exists as a coating to protect the skin inside your ear from water and harmful bacteria. Yes, it sometimes feels a little uncomfortable when it’s sitting at the end of your ear canal, but even if you’re careful with a cotton swab, you’re still not doing yourself any favours by pushing your ear wax back into your ear. The ear canal cleans itself very effectively, and the ear wax that you push out through activities like chewing and yawning will generally dry up and flake off by itself.
Earwax exists as a coating to protect the skin inside your ear from water and harmful bacteria.
Of course, there is the possibility that you do have too much ear wax. As people age, ear wax will sometimes begin to build up, which can actually make it more difficult to hear. Believe it or not, your hearing loss may simply be a symptom of too much ear wax! Rest assured, the professionals at Hear for Life will be able to assess whether the cause of your hearing loss is due to an ear wax build up with an ear wax check followed by a quick hearing screening. Plus, at Hear for Life, a number of our professionals are also certified in cerumen management (cerumen is the clinical term for ear wax), and they will be able to safely remove your earwax should it prove to be excessive or refer you to your family physician to do so.
If you’re having trouble hearing, it may just be ear wax.
Remember, when you’re dealing with your health, hearing or otherwise, it’s always best to consult a professional.
Here are some tips to help you know when and why it’s time for a hearing test.
Commonly enough, screening or checking your hearing isn’t part of your annual check-up with your family doctor. So, “when and why should I get my hearing tested?” you may ask. Well, we highly recommend scheduling an annual hearing tests if you fall into one (or more) of the following three categories:
1) You are 55 years of age or older
Once you are 55 years old, we generally recommend that you have your hearing tested annually or in conjunction with your other doctor visits. A decline in your hearing is a natural part of aging, and if hearing loss is detected in its earliest stages, you and your hearing healthcare professional will be much better equipped to address and manage the loss in the future. If your test results are positive for hearing loss, you may not need a hearing aid right away, but you’ll have the information needed to maintain your hearing health and take appropriate action as you go forward.
2) You’ve had consistent exposure to loud noise through work or in recreation
Prolonged noise exposure is one of the main causes of hearing loss. Workplace environments that can cause a noise-induced hearing loss include construction sites, factories, military service, the music industry, or large, enclosed sports stadiums. If you have had significant prior exposure to noise or are still working with noise on a daily basis, it’s especially necessary to test your hearing annually.
3) You exhibit any signs or symptoms of a hearing loss
In this case, it’s important to have your hearing tested every year. Initial signs of a hearing loss can include the following:
- The feeling that people constantly mumble or don’t speak clearly
- Often having to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves
- Difficulty following conversations in busy settings (restaurants, malls, parties, etc.)
- Difficulty following group conversations
- Difficulty hearing people on the telephone
- Others frequently commenting that your television or radio is too loud
Any one of these signs can signal a hearing loss, even among children to middle-aged adults. It’s also important to note that more often it is the close friends or relatives who recognize the initial stages of a hearing loss than the people with hearing loss themselves. No matter your age, if you or someone close to you suspects that you may have a hearing loss, it’s best to have your hearing tested. At Hear for Life, all hearing tests are complementary – so why wait?
And, if you are already wearing hearing aids, it’s still important to have your hearing tested on a yearly basis. Hearing changes over time, and so it’s necessary to ensure that your hearing aids are still effectively addressing your hearing loss. Even if you purchased your hearing aids elsewhere, you can book your next hearing test with Hear for Life, and our specialists will be able to reprogram and service your hearing aids based on your newest test results.
If you still need a reason to go for your annual hearing test, here are three great reasons why you should get your hearing tested.
Hearing Tests Are Free At Hear for Life.
Our organization offers free hearing tests because we believe that checking your hearing is too important to be hindered by a fee. You can have your hearing tested complimentary at any of our clinics throughout Ontario, so why not book your appointment today?
Hearing Aids Aren’t What They Used To Be.
If your hearing test reveals a hearing loss significant enough where hearing aids can help, it opens up a world of selection for you; from stylish to invisible, simple to tech-savvy, there are so many interesting products available to help you hear better now and in the future. We like the analogy of eyeglasses here. Once you know you need them, you get to browse through various styles until you’ve found the ones that suit you best. With hearing aids, you’re getting even more; today’s models are mini computers, with different settings for different environments, and the option to connect to all the technology you use in your life, from your television to your smartphone.
You Don’t Want To Wait.
We’ve left the most important for last. An undetected and untreated hearing loss only gets worse with time. The longer you go without hearing aids when you have a hearing loss, the less practice your brain receives when converting sound into speech. Your brain is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. An untreated hearing loss in its early stages will generally require more basic (and generally less expensive) hearing aids, and wearing those hearing aids right from the start will help slow the decline of your hearing too.
So, is it time for a hearing test? If you fall into one of the three categories listed above, it’s time to schedule a hearing test today. Maintaining your hearing health is just another aspect of continuing to live well physically and mentally, so just as you visit your doctor and other specialists for regular screenings, visit your hearing healthcare professionals for annual appointments as well. At Hear for Life, we’ll work with you to monitor and maintain your hearing health now and in the future.
It’s time to address the myth that hearing aids used in quieter environments will make other sounds overwhelmingly loud. Today, we discuss the fact that hearing aids no longer amplify sound across the board.
Historically, hearing instruments were built to amplify all sound. The idea was that if you couldn’t hear, the issue would be easily addressed by turning the volume up. Today, we know that people suffering from a sensorineural hearing loss (resulting from prolonged noise exposure, head injuries or aging) hear certain sounds more quietly, while they hear others at a perfectly adequate level. That’s why hearing aid manufacturers have worked to develop technology that allows hearing aids to selectively amplify sound. Different manufactures have implemented different ways of going about this, but hearing aids these days automatically adjust based on the direction you are facing, the environment you’re in and even where the sounds are coming. How this is actually done is a bit on the technical side, but at the end of the day hearing aids now-a-days talk to each other and are constantly scanning all the sounds around you.
Hearing aids these days automatically adjust based on the direction you are facing, the environment you’re in and even where the sounds are coming.
Therefore, hearing aids today pick up on the more important sounds (the sounds you want to hear or would hear with a ‘normal’ level of hearing) while adjusting the louder sounds at a manageable level (the sounds in everyday background noise or loud sounds in general). Most hearing aids on the market today operate according to this intake-based sound amplification.
Hearing aids no longer amplify sound across the board.
So if you’re worried that hearing aids will make everything louder, we’re happy to let you know that your fear is unfounded. Your hearing healthcare professional will program your hearing aid so that it amplifies exactly to your level of hearing loss, meaning that your hearing aid will always know at what decibel level it needs to stop amplifying. Your hearing aid will be customized perfectly to your specific needs, and if it ever feels uncomfortable (as hearing does change over time), you can come back in for a clinic appointment and your hearing healthcare professional will gladly adjust your hearing aid to your perfect specifications.
To find out more, call or visit one of our locations nearest you today!
Although hearing loss is a normal part of aging, today we challenge the myth that as we age we should simply accept our declining ability to hear.
At Hear for Life, we are often surprised by the number of people who fail to address their hearing loss because they believe that hearing loss is just “normal” for their age. If your eyesight was deteriorating, you’d never opt out of a pair of glasses just because your declining eyesight might be natural at your age. We live in a world of technology that is constantly changing, and in many ways developing to address new challenges and making our lives easier and better. Today’s hearing aid technology can do just that, and every day it becomes increasingly more accessible, user-friendly and effective at treating even the highest levels of hearing loss.
While we acknowledge that hearing loss absolutely occurs frequently throughout the senior population (of 80,000 Americans surveyed, 30% of people over 60 reported a hearing loss), this isn’t a reason to neglect to get it treated – especially when a hearing loss can cause social isolation that is entirely preventable. Hearing loss hinders the ability to communicate; people become unable to participate in group conversations, unable to stay in touch with family members by phone, and even become less able to have real, meaningful conversations with those who are closest. This can cause anger, frustration, and increased silence until they can no longer effectively participate in the world around them, which in turn can cause isolation and depression. But it’s all preventable! Hearing aids are an effective solution for 90-95% of instances of hearing loss! Wouldn’t you want to take this route of action and stop these consequences of hearing loss before they even occur?
Hearing loss may be a normal part of aging, but it’s still a medical issue that should be actively treated.
If you have a hearing loss, we at Hear for Life encourage you to be proactive and learn about the most effective treatment for you, so you can stay involved with and connected to the people you love. Because honestly, what’s more important than that? To speak with a Hearing Expert nearest you, call or visit one of our clinics today!
 Kochkin, Sergei (2005), “Prevalence of Hearing Loss,” (accessed July 18, 2013), [available at http://www.betterhearing.org]
 Kochkin, Sergei (2005), “Hearing Loss Treatment,” (accessed July 18, 2013), [available at http://www.betterhearing.org]
While shopping for a hearing aid might be just as much fun as shopping for a new shirt, new golf clubs, or a new pair of glasses, there’s actually a little more to it. Hearing aids aren’t a one-stop purchase; it’s important to take the time to think about what you really want and need before making the investment. That’s why we wanted to share some helpful tips on what to consider before you start the search for your hearing aid. Remember, you’ll be working with your hearing healthcare professional, so the below will also help you think about what your specialists should know before they recommend some options for you to try.
Ease – Sometimes it’s just physically easier to work with certain styles of hearing aids over others. You’ll want to consider whether you might have a harder time opening a smaller battery door or finding small controls on a hearing aid. Some hearing aids even come automatically programmed, so you don’t have to worry about controls at all! Others come with a remote control, so you can still switch the settings without fiddling with tiny buttons on the hearing aid itself.
Subtlety – Would you prefer to be discreet about your hearing aids? There are all kinds of options if you value subtlety, from hearing aids that sit deep within your ear canal to tiny ones that are tucked behind your ear, just out of sight.
Connectivity – If you like to spend your mornings listening to the radio, or your evenings watching television, you may be interested in a hearing aid with the option of connecting wirelessly to other technology – so that the sound from the radio, television and even the telephone is transmitted directly into your ear!
Your Lifestyle – Maybe you often have work engagements at busy venues, or maybe you spend lots of time in cafes or restaurants with friends and family. If so, you’ll likely be looking for a hearing aid that’s specifically built to pick up voices amidst background noise. Think about what you like to do in your day-to-day life to figure out what you’ll need from your hearing aids.
Your Budget – It’s important to have an idea of the amount you’ll be willing to spend on your hearing aids, keeping in mind that they are an investment into your healthcare and well-being in the long term.
Along with each of these considerations, the major factor in your search will be your level of hearing loss – but not to worry, because once you’ve had your hearing test your hearing healthcare professional will know exactly what you need.
During a consultation at Hear for Life, your hearing healthcare professional will discuss each of these factors with you, so there’s no need to worry about remembering to mention them all. These are just tips to get the ball rolling, so that once you sit down at your hearing aid consultation, you’ll already have a good idea of what’s most important for you. Together, using all this information, you and your hearing healthcare professional will be better equipped to find your ideal hearing aid!
Take the first step and book a free hearing consultation at the clinic nearest you!