In some circles, the practice known as “ear candling” is persistently believed to be an effective way to decrease earwax. Is ear candling effective and what is it?
Earwax Candles, is it Effective?
Spoiler alert: No. They absolutely don’t work.
Why then, does this bit of pseudo-science keep finding its way into the heads of otherwise logical human beings? That’s a difficult question to answer. But the more you know about earwax candling, including the risks involved, the more likely you can draw an informed choice (even if the sensible choice is pretty clear).
What is Earwax Candling?
So here’s the basic setup: Perhaps you aren’t certain how to get rid of all your built up earwax. You’ve read that it’s risky to use cotton swabs to clear your earwax out. So, after doing some study, you discover a technique called earwax candling.
Here’s how earwax candling supposedly works: You produce a pressure differential by shoving the candle into your ear, wick side out. The wax in your ear, then, is pulled outward, towards the freedom of the open world. In theory, the pressure differential is enough to break up any wax that might be clogging up your ear. But cleaning your ears like this can be dangerous.
Why Isn’t Ear Candling Effective
This practice has a few issues, like the fact that the physics simply don’t work. It would require a significant amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle just isn’t capable of creating that kind of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t possess the sort of seal required to hold pressure.
Now, the candles used in these “treatments” are supposed to be special. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located in the hollow portion of the candle which can be broken up when you’re finished with your 15 minutes of ear candling. But the issue is you can find this same material in new unburned candles also. So the whole practice amounts to fraud.
Earwax candling has never been proven by science to have any benefit whatsoever.
So we Know Ear Candling Doesn’t Work But is it Dangerous?
So, you may as well give it a shot, right? Well, you’re looking for trouble whenever you get a hot candle near your ears. You might be fine if you try earwax candling. Lots of people do. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved, and it certainly doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.
Here are a few negative effects of ear candling:
- Your ear can be seriously burned. When melted candle wax goes into your ear, it can lead to severe hearing problems and burns. In the most severe cases, this might permanently damage your hearing.
- Whenever you’re messing around with an open flame, there’s a chance that you might trigger serious damage and put your life in danger. You wouldn’t want to burn your house down, would you? Eliminating a bit of earwax isn’t worth that kind of risk and danger.
- Once the wax cools it can block up your ear canal. You could end up temporarily losing your hearing or even requiring surgery in extreme cases.
You Can Clean Your Ears Without Needing a Candle
The majority of people will never actually need to worry about cleaning earwax out of their ears. That’s because your ears are really pretty good at cleaning themselves! But you may be one of those individuals who have an uncommonly heavy earwax production.
If you do need to clean out your ears because of too much wax, there are scientifically-proven (and effective) methods to do that safely. You could use a fluid wash, for example. Another alternative would be to consult a hearing care professional for an earwax cleaning.
Cotton swabs are definitely not the way to go. And you should also avoid using an open flame to clean out earwax. Earwax candling doesn’t work, and it can create risks that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable jeopardy. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but not as a method to clean your ears.
Realizing you should safeguard your hearing is one thing. Recognizing when to protect your ears is another matter. It’s more challenging than, for instance, knowing when you need sunblock. (Is the sun out and will you be outdoors? Then you need sunscreen.) Even recognizing when you need eye protection is easier (Doing some hammering? Cutting some wood or working with dangerous chemicals? Wear eye protection).
It can feel as though there’s a large grey area when addressing when to use hearing protection, and that can be detrimental. Unless we have specific knowledge that some activity or place is dangerous we tend to take the easy path which is to avoid the problem altogether.
Assessing The Risks
In general, we’re not very good at assessing risk, especially when it comes to something as intangible as damage to the ears or the probability of long term sensorineural hearing loss. To demonstrate the situation, check out some examples:
- Person A goes to a very loud rock concert. 3 hours is approximately the length of the concert.
- A landscaping business is run by person B. After mowing lawns all day, she goes home and quietly reads a book.
- Person C works in an office.
You might presume that person A (let’s call her Ann, to be a little less formal) may be in more hearing danger. For the majority of the next day, her ears will still be ringing from the loud show. Presuming Ann’s activity was risky to her ears would be reasonable.
The noise that person B (let’s just call her Betty), is subjected to is not as loud. There’s no ringing in her ears. So her hearing must be safer, right? Not really. Because Betty is mowing all day. So even though her ears never ring out with pain, the injury accrues slowly. Even moderate sounds, if experienced with enough frequency, can injury your hearing.
Person C (let’s call her Chris) is even less evident. Lawnmowers have instructions that emphasize the hazards of continued exposure to noise. But even though Chris works in a quiet office, she has a very noisy, hour-long commute each day on the train. Additionally, although she works at her desk all day, she listens to her music through earbuds. Does she need to give some thought to protection?
When You Should Worry About Safeguarding Your Ears
Normally, you should turn down the volume if you have to shout to be heard. And if your surroundings are that loud, you need to consider wearing earplugs or earmuffs.
The limit should be 85dB if you want to get scientific. Sounds above 85dB have the ability to result in damage over time, so you should give consideration to wearing hearing protection in those conditions.
Most hearing professionals recommend using a specialized app to monitor decibel levels so you will be aware when the 85dB has been reached. These apps can tell you when the surrounding sound is approaching a dangerous level, and you can take suitable steps.
A Few Examples
Even if you do get that app and take it with you, your phone might not be with you everywhere you go. So we might establish a good standard with a couple of examples of when to safeguard our ears. Here we go:
- Domestic Chores: We already mentioned how something as basic as mowing the lawn, when done often enough, can require hearing protection. Chores, such as mowing, are probably something you don’t even think about, but they can cause hearing damage.
- Exercise: You know your morning cycling class? Or maybe your daily elliptical session. You may think about wearing hearing protection to each one. Those instructors who use microphones and sound systems (and loud music) to motivate you may be good for your heart rate, but all that volume is bad for your ears.
- Working With Power Tools: You know that working all day at your factory job is going to necessitate ear protection. But how about the hobbyist building in his garage? Most hearing professionals will recommend you wear hearing protection when using power tools, even if it’s only on a hobbyist level.
- Listening to music with earbuds. OK, this doesn’t require protection but does require caution. Pay attention to how loud the music is, how long you’re playing it, and whether it’s going directly into your ears. Noise-canceling headphones are a great choice to prevent having to turn the volume way up.
- Commuting and Driving: Do you drive for Lyft or Uber? Or perhaps you’re just hanging out downtown for work or boarding the subway. The constant noise of living in the city, when experienced for 6-8 hours a day, can cause injury to your hearing over the long haul, particularly if you’re turning up your music to hear it over the commotion.
A good baseline may be established by these examples. If there is any doubt, though, wear protection. In most cases, it’s better to over-protect your ears than to leave them subject to possible damage in the future. Protect today, hear tomorrow.
Sleep is critical. If you don’t get a complete, relaxing seven to eight hours of sleep, you get up groggy and cranky, an unpleasant feeling that only three cups of coffee can keep at bay. So you were aghast when your hearing loss started to cause you to lose sleep.
Justifiably so. But there’s something that can be of assistance, fortunately: a hearing aid. It’s feasible that these small devices can help you get a better night sleep, according to the latest surveys.
How Does Hearing Loss Impact Sleep?
Recently, you’ve noticed yourself counting sheep more than usual, fighting fatigue all day regardless of how much sleep you get, and then having a hard time falling asleep at night (despite your exhaustion). All of these issues started about the same time you also began to notice that your mobile phone, radio, and television were becoming hard to hear.
It’s not your imagination come to find. There is a well-documented relationship between hearing loss and insomnia, even if the exact sources aren’t completely clear. Some theories have been put forward:
- Hearing loss is connected to depression, and your sleep cycle can be disturbed by chemical imbalances caused by depression. Because of this, falling asleep and staying asleep becomes more difficult.
- Tinnitus can cause you to hear thumping, humming, and ringing and that noise can cause you to lose sleep. (Lack of sleep can also cause your tinnitus to get worse, which can then cause stronger insomnia, it’s a vicious cycle).
- Your brain, when you have loss of hearing, strains to get input where there isn’t any. If your brain is in high gear attempting to hear while you’re trying to sleep, your entire cycle could be disrupted (It’s the typical issue of not being able to get your brain to turn off).
Can Your Sleep be Helped by Using Hearing Aids?
According to one study, 44% of people with loss of hearing who don’t use hearing aids reported being satisfied with their sleep compared to 59% sleep satisfaction among those who did use a hearing aid. So does that mean it’s safe to suppose hearing aids are also a kind of sleep aid?
Not really. If your hearing is completely healthy, using hearing aids isn’t going to cure your insomnia.
But if you suffer from hearing loss related insomnia, hearing aids could help in several critical ways:
- Isolation: Your not so likely to feel depressed and isolated if you can connect with people in your social circle when you’re out and about. Relationships become easier with hearing aids (this can also reduce “cabin fever”-associated sleep cycle troubles).
- Strain: The damage on your brain will essentially decreased by using hearing aids. And your brain won’t be as likely to strain while falling asleep if it isn’t straining all of the rest of the time.
- Tinnitus: Depending on the cause and nature of your tinnitus, hearing aids might provide a practical way of managing that buzzing and ringing. This can help short circuit that vicious cycle and help you get to sleep.
Achieving a Better Night Sleep Using Hearing Aids
It’s not just the number of hours that’s significant here. How deep you sleep is as important as how many hours you sleep. Loss of hearing can reduce that deep sleep, and hearing aids, as a result, can enhance your ability to enjoy restful sleep.
It’s important to note that even though they’ll help better your sleep, most hearing aids are not intended to be worn at night. They don’t help you hear better when you’re in bed (for instance, you won’t hear your alarm clock more clearly). And your hearing aids can actually wear out faster if you use them during the night. You get better sleep if you wear them during the day.
Go to Bed!
Getting a restful night’s sleep is a valuable thing. Your stress level, your immune system, and your ability to think clearly will all be enhanced by ample sleep. A reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease have also been connected to healthy sleep habits.
When your sleep schedule is disturbed by your hearing loss, it’s not only a small irritation, insomnia can often lead to serious health problems. Luckily, most surveys report that people with hearing aids have better quality of sleep.
Sometimes when an individual has a difficult time hearing, somebody close to them insultingly says they have “selective hearing”. Maybe you heard your mother suggest that your father had “selective hearing” when she believed he might be ignoring her.
But in reality it takes an amazing act of cooperation between your brain and your ears to have selective hearing.
Hearing in a Crowd
Perhaps you’ve dealt with this situation before: you’re feeling tired from a long day at work but your friends all really would like to go out for dinner and drinks. They choose the noisiest restaurant (because it’s popular and the food is delicious). And you spend the entire evening straining your ears, working hard to follow the conversation.
But it’s very difficult and exhausting. And it’s an indication of hearing loss.
You think, perhaps the restaurant was simply too noisy. But… everyone else appeared to be having a great time. The only person who appeared to be having difficulty was you. So you begin to wonder: what is it about the packed room, the cacophony of voices all struggling to be heard, that causes hearing impaired ears to struggle? It seems as if hearing well in a crowded place is the first thing to go, but what’s the reason? Scientists have begun to discover the answer, and it all begins with selective hearing.
How Does Selective Hearing Function?
The scientific name for what we’re loosely calling selective hearing is “hierarchical encoding,” and it doesn’t take place inside of your ears at all. The majority of this process occurs in the brain. At least, that’s in accordance with a new study performed by a team at Columbia University.
Ears work like a funnel which scientists have understood for quite a while: they gather all the impulses and then deliver the raw information to your brain. That’s where the real work occurs, particularly the auditory cortex. Vibrations caused by moving air are translated by this part of the brain into perceptible sound information.
Because of comprehensive research with MRI and CT scans, scientists have recognized for years that the auditory cortex plays a considerable role in hearing, but they were clueless when it came to what those processes really look like. Scientists were able, by making use of unique research techniques on people with epilepsy, to get a better picture of how the auditory cortex picks out voices in a crowd.
The Hearing Hierarchy
And here is what these intrepid scientists found out: the majority of the work done by the auditory cortex to isolate distinct voices is done by two separate regions. They’re what enables you to separate and intensify distinct voices in noisy environments.
- Superior temporal gyrus (STG): The separated voices move from the HG to the STG, and it’s here that your brain begins to make some value determinations. The superior temporal gyrus figures out which voices you want to focus on and which can be securely moved to the background.
- Heschl’s gyrus (HG): This is the region of the auditory cortex that deals with the first stage of the sorting process. Heschl’s gyrus or HG processes each individual voice and separates them into distinguishable identities.
When you start to suffer from hearing damage, it’s more difficult for your brain to identify voices because your ears are lacking particular wavelengths of sound (low or high, based upon your hearing loss). Your brain isn’t supplied with enough data to assign individual identities to each voice. As a result, it all blends together (which makes interactions difficult to follow).
A New Algorithm From New Science
It’s standard for hearing aids to have features that make it easier to hear in a crowded situation. But now that we know what the fundamental process looks like, hearing aid manufacturers can integrate more of those natural functions into their instrument algorithms. For example, hearing aids that do more to distinguish voices can assist the Heschl’s gyrus a little bit, resulting in a greater ability for you to comprehend what your coworkers are talking about in that loud restaurant.
Technology will get better at mimicking what occurs in nature as we uncover more about how the brain works in combination with the ears. And better hearing success will be the outcome. That way, you can focus a little less on straining to hear and a little more on enjoying yourself.
Typically, loss of hearing is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss are 75 or older. And even though it’s often entirely preventable, a new study reveals a shocking number of younger people are losing their hearing.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. The reason? Mobile devices with earbuds or headphones connected are believed to be the culprit. And older individuals are also at risk.
In People Who Are Under The Age of 60, What Causes Loss of Hearing?
There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if others can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Your hearing can be injured when you listen to noises above 85 decibels – similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. If the volume is cranked all the way up on a normal mobile device it’s volume is around 106 decibels. Your hearing is damaged in under 4 minutes in these conditions.
While you might think that this stuff would be common sense, the truth is kids spend around two hours a day using their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time they’re watching videos, listening to music, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies reveal that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine generation in the brain’s of younger kids, which is exactly what addictive drugs do. Kids hearing loss will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly hard to get them to put away their screens.
The Challenges of Hearing Loss in Young People
Irrespective of age, it’s obvious that hearing loss offers many difficulties. Young people, though, face additional problems pertaining to academics, after school sports, and even job prospects. Loss of hearing at a young age results in problems with attention span and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes participating in sports a lot more challenging, since so much of sports includes listening to teammates and coaches give instructions and call plays. Early loss of hearing can have an adverse effect on confidence also, which puts unneeded obstacles in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.
Social issues can also persist due to hearing loss. Children with damaged hearing commonly wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their peers due to loss of hearing. People who have hearing loss can feel separated and have anxiety and depression inevitably leading to mental health concerns. Mental health treatment and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, especially during the significant formative stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How You Can Avoid Hearing Loss?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at a maximum volume of 69%. If your children listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the music while you are close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can’t hear it anymore.
You may also choose to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds, placed directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.
Throughout the day in general, you need to do anything possible to minimize your exposure to loud sound. If you try to listen to your music without headphones, that is one of the few things you can keep have control of. And, see us immediately if you think you are already suffering from loss of hearing.
Multiple studies have verified that hearing loss can have an impact on your brain. (Just have a look at some of our past blog posts.) The good news is, it’s also been verified that you can regain some of that cognitive ability by using hearing aids.
We’re not stating that you will become smarter just by wearing hearing aids. But there’s some compelling research that suggests cognitive ability can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids lowering your risk for anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Your Brain is in Charge of a Substantial Amount of Your Hearing
It’s essential to recognize how large a part your brain plays in hearing if you are going to comprehend the link between cognition and your ears. It’s the brain’s task to convert sound vibrations into recognizable sound information. The regions of the brain that translate sound will suddenly have less to do when hearing starts to diminish.
Changes in your brain (and hearing), coupled with other considerations (such as social isolation), can result in the onset of mental health issues. Depression, dementia, and anxiety are a lot more noticeable in individuals who have neglected hearing loss.
Your essentially “treating” your hearing loss when you’re wearing hearing aids. That means:
- You can stop your hearing from getting worse by wearing hearing aids in conjunction with regular screening.
- You’ll be less likely to isolate yourself socially. Conversations will be easier to comprehend and follow, so you’ll be more likely to participate.
- The regions of your brain responsible for hearing will get a more consistent workout; the more your brain works, the healthier your brain stays.
Keeping You on Your Toes
Hearing aids can prevent depression, anxiety, and dementia because they enhance your brain and your social life.
- Boosting awareness: Sometimes, because you’re not mindful of your environment, you might have a fall. Your situational awareness can be significantly hampered by hearing conditions. Figuring out what direction sound is originating from can be as difficult as hearing sound in general. A fall or other accident can be the result.
- State of the art technology: Hearing aids have started incorporating unique technology that can actually alert emergency contacts (or emergency services) when someone using the hearing aids experiences a fall. This might not prevent the fall to begin with, but it can prevent long-term injuries or complications caused by the fall.
- The health of your inner ear: Loss of hearing by itself will not result in inner ear injury. But there is frequently a common cause for both loss of hearing and damage to the inner ear. So treating the one can help you treat the other, and in some cases, a hearing aid is a component of that treatment regimen.
Truthfully, you have a higher chance of avoiding a fall when you’re using hearing aids. A hearing aid improves your physical health and cognitive capability while performing the important tasks of helping you stay more mindful, more focused, and more dialed in.
Stop Neglecting Your Hearing Aid
We haven’t even addressed the fact that a hearing aid will also improve your hearing. So when you take into consideration that amplified hearing, factor in the mental health benefits and physical well-being, it seems like wearing these devices should be a simple choice (not something you need to overthink).
The problem is that many people don’t know they have hearing loss. When your hearing goes away slowly, you may have a hard time noticing. That’s the reason why it’s essential to get your hearing checked routinely. A wide range of other health issues can be made worse by hearing loss.
Hearing aids will lessen the chances of physical damage while helping to slow dementia and depression. That’s a stunning mix of benefits that hearing aids provide, and they also help your hearing.
Your brain develops in a different way than normal if you’re born with loss of hearing. Surprised? That’s because our ideas about the brain aren’t always accurate. Your mind, you believe, is a static thing: it only changes due to injury or trauma. But the fact is that brains are a little more…dynamic.
Your Brain is Impacted by Hearing
The majority of people have heard that when one sense decreases the others become more powerful. Vision is the most well known example: as you lose your vision, your taste, smell, and hearing will become super powerful as a counterbalance.
There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been proven scientifically. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does alter the sensory architecture of your brain. At least we know that occurs in children, how much we can extrapolate to adults is uncertain.
The physical structure of children’s brains, who have loss of hearing, has been demonstrated by CT scans to change, changing the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to be more sensitive to visual information.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that even moderate hearing loss can have an influence on the brain’s architecture.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
A specific amount of brainpower is dedicated to each sense when they are all working. A specific amount of brain power goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and so on. When your young, your brain is extremely pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
Conventional literature had already verified that in children with total or near-total hearing loss, the brain changed its general structure. Instead of being committed to hearing, that space in the brain is restructured to be committed to vision. The brain gives more power and space to the senses that are delivering the most input.
Modifications With Mild to Medium Loss of Hearing
What’s unexpected is that this same rearrangement has been observed in children with mild to medium hearing loss also.
These brain alterations won’t result in superpowers or substantial behavioral changes, to be clear. Helping people adapt to hearing loss appears to be a more realistic interpretation.
A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time
The research that loss of hearing can alter the brains of children definitely has ramifications beyond childhood. The great majority of people dealing with loss of hearing are adults, and the hearing loss itself is frequently a direct result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being altered by hearing loss?
Some research suggests that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular areas of the brain. Other evidence has associated untreated hearing loss with higher chances for dementia, depression, and anxiety. So although it’s not certain if the other senses are improved by hearing loss we are sure it modifies the brain.
Individuals from around the country have anecdotally borne this out.
The Affect of Hearing Loss on Your General Health
It’s more than superficial insight that loss of hearing can have such an important influence on the brain. It’s a reminder that the brain and the senses are inherently connected.
There can be noticeable and considerable mental health issues when hearing loss develops. So that you can be prepared for these consequences you need to be mindful of them. And being prepared will help you take the appropriate steps to maintain your quality of life.
How drastically your brain physically changes with the start of hearing loss will depend on a myriad of factors ((age is a leading factor because older brains have a more difficult time creating new neural pathways). But there’s no doubt that neglected hearing loss will have an effect on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter how old you are.
Your hearing aids don’t sound right despite the fact that you just changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit dull and distant. It’s like some of the sound is missing. When you do some basic research, a low battery seems to be the most likely cause. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged every night.
Even so, here you are, struggling to hear your bunch of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is precisely the situation you got hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you may want to check: your own earwax.
You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears
Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for best efficiency, other models have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
Now, earwax does a lot of important things for the health of your ears ((various infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.
But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. The good news is, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.
So a protective feature, called wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards could be what’s causing the “weak” sound.
Things to Know About Wax Guards
There is a tiny piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. The idea is that the wax guard allows sound to go through, but not wax. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:
- When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and like any kind of filter, it has to be cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and once in a while, you will need to clean it.
- A professional clean and check is required: At least once a year you should have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s functioning correctly. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested regularly.
- You have an unclean hearing aid shell: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may find its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would clearly hinder the efficiency of your hearing aids).
- You haven’t replaced your wax guard for a while: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (you can buy a special toolkit to make this process easier).
Make sure you follow the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.
I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
You should hear much improved sound quality once you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should become much better. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been aggravated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.
There’s undoubtedly a learning curve in regards to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: It’s most likely time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even with a fully charged battery.
According to one recent survey, nearly 30% of people have gone more than ten years without getting a hearing test. Sofia is one of those people. She knows to have her oil changed every 3000 miles, she sees the dentist every six months, and she reports punctually for her yearly medical examination. But she hasn’t had a hearing examination in a long time.
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to have hearing evaluations, the most important of which is that it’s usually difficult for you to notice the first signs of hearing loss without one. Knowing how frequently she should get a hearing exam will help Sofia keep her ears (and hearing) as healthy as she can for as long as possible.
How Often Each Year Should my Ears be Checked?
We might be alarmed if Sophia hadn’t had a hearing examination in ten years. Or we might think it’s completely normal. Our reaction, and the reaction of her hearing specialist, probably will vary depending on how old she is. This is because hearing specialists have different guidelines based on age.
- If you are older than fifty: The general suggestion is that anyone over the age of fifty should get hearing checks every year. As you get older, the noise damage you’ve sustained over a lifetime can begin to speed up, which means loss of hearing is more likely to start affecting your life. Plus, there are other health problems that can impact your hearing.
- It’s generally suggested that you take a hearing exam every three years or so. Certainly, if you feel you should get your ears examined more frequently, that’s also fine. But once every three years is the bare minimum. You should absolutely get evaluated more often if you are frequently in a loud environment. There’s no reason not to do it, it’s painless and easy.
As far as your hearing is concerned, more often is certainly better. Since you last had a hearing assessment, you might have new injury you should know about, so regular hearing tests could be helpful.
Signs You Should Get Your Hearing Checked
There are definitely other occasions besides your annual hearing exam that you might want to schedule an appointment with your hearing specialist. For example, if you recognize symptoms of hearing loss. And in those situations, it’s often a good plan to immediately contact a hearing professional and schedule a hearing exam.
Some of the signs that might prompt you to get a hearing test could include:
- It’s typical for hearing loss in the high pitched register to fail first and because consonants are in a higher pitched register than vowels, they usually fail first.
- Sounds seem muffled; it’s starting to sound as though you constantly have water in your ears.
- Having a very hard time understanding people when talking on the phone, any phone.
- Continually asking people to slow down or repeat themselves during a conversation.
- Difficulty hearing discussions in loud surroundings.
- Listening to your favorite tunes at excessively high volumes.
A strong sign that right now is the best time to get a hearing exam is when the warning signs start to add up. You need to know what’s going on with your ears and that means getting a hearing test sooner rather than later.
What Are The Benefits of Hearing Testing?
There are plenty of reasons why Sofia may be late in having her hearing exam. Maybe she hasn’t thought about it. Possibly thinking about it is something she is simply avoiding. But getting your hearing tested on the recommended schedule has concrete advantages.
And it will be easier to identify hearing deviations in the future if you get your hearing checked by forming a baseline reading even if it seems like everything is normal. You can protect your hearing better if you catch it before it becomes an issue.
The point of regular hearing testing is that somebody like Sofia will be enabled to detect issues before her hearing is impaired permanently. Early detection by a hearing exam can help your hearing stay healthy for a long time. Understanding the effects of hearing loss on your total health, that’s essential.
Your hearing is your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their ears. But in general, that’s not the situation. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They believe that loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. Damage to the ears, damage that unavoidably causes hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your ears without eroding your performance.
When You’re in a Loud Environment, Safeguard Your Hearing
Obviously, musicians are not the only individuals who are subjected to a loud workplace environment. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But practical levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly implemented by other occupations like manufacturing and construction.
Probably this is because of a couple of things:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have many hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Even if a musician is playing the same music nightly, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems as if it might hamper hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is usually due to false information.
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be excited to be in your position. So some musicians might not want to rock the boat or complain about poor hearing protection.
Regrettably, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an effect on more than just musicians. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to bartenders, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially an extremely harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
Thankfully, that’s changing for two major reasons. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a particular performance, a viola player was placed directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be subjected to that amount of sound, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced severe hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a signal that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special case and instead invest in proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Unavoidable For Musicians
In the music business the number of individuals who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an escalating chance of having permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without inhibiting musical abilities by using earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without decreasing the quality of sound.
Transforming The Music Culture
The right hearing protection equipment is available and ready. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently showing some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to protect your hearing without hurting your performance.