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Can Hearing Aids Cause Ear Infection?

Imagine our ear is like a funnel! The way a funnel gathers everything poured on it and flows through the tube extended from it; likewise, our ears have a tube-like aperture which delivers sound toward the eardrum. This tube is known as the ear canal, but the structure is not straight.

The ear canal is an opening through the bones of the skull. Some parts of the ear canal are skin covered and have hair follicles. On this portion sweat, ear wax forms and sticks to the hairs inside.

The hearing aid molds sit in the ear canal. The device is meant to be blocking the ear canal for gaining structural benefit.

By nature, ear canal has the ability to trap moisture and the occluding state of the ear canal after wearing the hearing aid increases the chance of moisture retention and thus growth of bacteria.

Therefore, adjustments and proper maintenance is required for user comfort.

Influence of Hearing Aid Parts on Ear Infection

Hearing aid, being a very valuable tool for people with hearing loss, cannot be said to be directly responsible for ear infections but there can be situations where improper use of hearing aid can trigger ear infection.

A typical hearing aid has a shell in which all the delicate tiny parts are housed. From the shell extends a tube which connects an ear mold into the ear. Earmolds channel the sounds generated from the processor through the ear canal.

The ear molds are made of plastic; usually the materials are vinyl, acrylic or silicone based. These are made uniquely by the ear impression of the individual user. The device must be accurately fit. As the device fits the ear canal by blocking the way there becomes a chance of trapping ear wax, debris, moisture and lack of ventilation. The mold may get tainted with ear wax as a result it may become the source of fungal and bacterial growth spurt.

Triggers for Ear Infection After Wearing Hearing Aids

People having a previous history of ear infections are most likely to develop ear infections again when they use hearing aid. Using hearing aids develops moisture content in the ear canal which can sometimes lead to bacterial and fungal growth resulting in ear infection. Although we do not need to worry much as proper hygiene of ear and hearing aid can reduce the chance of infection to a great instant.

sensitization to earmold material in the ear canal could be another cause for irritation in the ear canal. Allergenic properties of the material may induce reaction in the ear canal.

Don’t Ignore Infections – See A Doctor:

If after using hearing aids any sort of irritation, pain or tenderness is noticed in the ear immediately contact your audiologist. Remember the symptoms-

  • ·         Itching or pain in the ear
  • ·         Pain inside or around the ear
  • ·         Any rash or redness

How Serious Is Ear Infection Caused from Hearing Aids?

Usually, treatment of the infections due to bacteria may take a couple of weeks. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics as per the cause and severity of the infection.

When hearing aid users suffer from ear infection, they should seek help from professionals and should not neglect any slightest concern related to pain in the ear before and after wearing hearing aids. In this case ENT and Audiologist both help to provide treatments and management. The infection may require taking medication to improve and recover the infection. An audiologist may provide guidelines based on individual needs on usage of hearing aids, when to limit wearing the hearing aid as well as helpful strategies being under treatment of the infection.

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5 Ways You Can Avoid Getting Infections From Hearing Aid Usage

The following guidelines can ensure safe and infection free use of hearing aid:

1. Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning of hearing aid will mitigate the chance of bacteria and viruses to start growing in the contact surface of hearing aid. Using proper disinfectant will also prevent excess wax.

2. UV Light Dryer

UV lights can play a significant role in disinfecting hearing aid. Moisture and bacteria content can be omitted using UV Light dryer properly.

3. Removal at Night

Removing hearing aids during sleep time can dry the moisture buildup in the ear canal reducing the chance of ear infection.

4. Avoid Using During Infection

If ear infection develops, one should refrain from using hearing aid till the infection gets cured. Using hearing aids during infection can increase pain and block proper drainage and increase duration of ear infection.

5. Disclose Allergy And Sensitivity

Inform your audiologist about any prior history of allergy and skin infection before purchasing hearing aid so that appropriate hearing aid can be suggested to minimize risk of infection.

Wearing hearing aid may not directly be responsible for ear infections but lack of proper cleaning and maintenance increase the risk. Those who are prone to ear infection should ensure extra precaution to ensure safe use of hearing infection. By following the given guidelines, one can enjoy the benefits of hearing aid with minimal risk of ear infection.

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