Practicing “aural hygiene”

Those of us who work in the hearing care field have taken on the responsibility of providing the best possible care of our patient’s ears, hearing and/or balance, through training, education, listening and applying the best available information and technology to the specific problems our patients present with.  Ultimately, however, your ears are your responsibility.  You will always get the most out of your relationship with your professionals and your hearing aids (or hearing protection devices) when you comply with the practices that have been recommended to you during counseling.

Another way to maintain responsibility for your ears is to practice good “aural hygiene” (aural means “ear-related”).  What does this mean?

Firstly, refrain from inserting any object other than a recommended hearing device into your ear canal.  Be sure every audiologist, hearing aid dispenser, otolaryngologist or primary physician inspects the ear canals for wax and abnormalities regularly.  Wax can be removed by an otolaryngologist, primary physician, audiologist or nurse.  Avoid do-it-yourself wax removal products using suction or violent sprays.  Wax drops, such as DeBrox or Miracel are fine if used sparingly and gently.  They are good for pre-softening wax for professional removal.  Straight hydrogen peroxide can be harsh, and cleaning one’s ears too aggressively can remove too much of the protective qualities we rely on earwax for, such as lubrication and protection from viruses, bacteria, fungi and insects.

Protecting ears from excessive noise seems obvious, however, the number of noise-related hearing losses we see suggests otherwise.  Industry is compelled to follow OSHA regulations regarding workplace noise exposure (which factor in intensity level and exposure time), and there is no shortage of excellent hearing protection devices for hunting, shooting, music performance and listening, power tool use or industrial work.  But they must be used diligently and properly.  Strategies for musicians will be an excellent topic for a future blog (stay tuned!).  We say “the best ear plugs in the world are the ones that actually get used”.

Finally, be tuned to your ears for sudden changes in physical sensation (such as pain, fullness or pressure), changes in hearing, rapid-onset tinnitus or dizziness, drainage or bleeding.  These abrupt developments need to be evaluated immediately by an audiologist, otolaryngologist or primary physician.  Often fast intervention can be worth the effort.  Do not “wait and see” for these symptoms!

At Clear Choice our most successful patients have taken responsibility for their ears and their hearing.  They put their trust in us for their care, and we always strive to put you on a Clear Path to better hearing and health.