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In persons who have a very large amount of ear wax, putting drops into the ear may simply block up the ear and make it wet. Large amounts of hard wax -- take out as much as can be easily removed with microscope, and have person use drops, return in a few days to a week for suction.
The Welch Allyn Ear Wash System simultaneously irrigates and suctions out water and wax in a single step. With respect to using drops, the current literature is inconclusive and basically suggests that nearly anything works as well as anything else. Colace (a liquid stool softener), having the active ingrediant of docuate, when dropped in the ear, has also been studied for ear wax control.
Ear wax is one of the most common reasons for hearing aid failure, and also one of the easiest of hearing aid repairs. The first step in diagnosing your hearing aid for an earwax problem is a visual inspection. Every hearing aid is different so where and what you are looking for will depend on whether you wear open-fit, In-The-Ear, or Behind-The-Ear hearing aids.
If you wear an in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid the microphone is located on the faceplate near the battery compartment.
If you need to diagnose an In-The-Ear hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about In-The-Ear hearing aid earwax removal.
If you wear a behind the ear hearing aid (like hearing aid D) then you will have an earmold that uses a tube to channel the sound from the speaker into your ear. The microphone is located on the top of the hearing instrument (on the opposite side of the part that rests on the back of your ear).
If you need to diagnose a Behind-The-Ear hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about Behind-The-Ear hearing aid earwax removal.


Open-fit hearing aids are very similar to Behind-The-Ear hearing aids, but (usually) without a custom earmold. The microphone is located on the top where the tube connects to the hearing aid on some models, as in diagram 2, but can also be located on the back (on the same side as the program button in diagram 2).
If you need to diagnose an open-fit hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about open-fit hearing aid earwax removal.
Anthropologists have used cerumen type to tract human migratory patterns and epidemiologists have related cerumen type to breast cancer. The reason is that wax is often embedded into the hair that grows onto the side of the ear canal.
Because of this consideration, the optimal method of doing this is to have someone look into your ear first, and act depending on the situation.
In this situation one may attempt to soften the wax with oil and return in one week for another attempt. This is not to say that they are worthless -- just that salt water is equally effective (Roland et al, 2004). You can see the microphone on hearing aid C in diagram 1 (it’s at the top and looks like a black dot about the size of a period).
On almost all In-The-Ear hearing aids there are two openings on the tip; one is the speaker port and the other is an air vent that runs all the way through the hearing aid to the outside.
Most open-fit hearing aids have a soft dome on the end of the tube that is inserted into the ear canal. When one takes the wax out using a cerumen instrument, hair often comes with it -- this can hurt.
While irrigation is a conventional and accepted method of ear wax removal, it has many disadvantages compared to removal under direct vision.


The first two involve putting liquids into the ear, and should not be used by people with a hole in their ear drum (perforation). The speaker and the microphone are both susceptible to become plugged with wax, which can cause your hearing to be weak, distorted, or produce no sound at all. Looking at hearing aid C out of the ear, you can see the microphone at the top and the vent at the bottom. You can see the vent opening on hearing aid B (where it is in the ear) at the very top of the hearing aid.
This particular problem can be avoided by softening up the wax first with some oil (we often recommend Debrox) -- or by irrigating it out (see below). For example, in the rare instances when there is a perforation under the wax, irrigation may force water and wax into the middle ear, causing a nidus for infection. Docusate is ototoxic in guinea pigs (Nader et al, 2011), and for this reason, should be especially avoided when there is any chance of a perforation. The microphone port is also visible on the bottom of hearing aid B, almost covered by the ear. Some authors recommend placing 1 or 2 drops of Domeboro, Vosol or Cortisporin otic in the irrigated canal to prevent infection.



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