If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss or hearing impairment, chances are your hearing healthcare provider has recommended hearing aids. Every day, millions of Americans benefit from these devices and their ever-advancing features. Hearing aids can be a valuable tool to not only help you communicate more fully but also to manage hearing loss and prevent more serious diagnoses such as depression and dementia. Your provider may have discussed various models of hearing aids and features that can help you hear more clearly in noisy environments or mask tinnitus. They may have discussed changing batteries and coming in for hearing aid fittings and adjustments. What they may not have discussed are the lesser-known side effects of hearing aids such as itchy ears.
Itchy ears from wearing hearing aids are a relatively common problem experienced most often by new users, and it’s important to be aware of why it happens and how to prevent it. One study found that approximately 40% of ear mold users experienced itching. This common problem is generally caused when the very sensitive skin of the ear canal is somehow irritated by the hearing aid. Here’s what you need to know to stop the itching and get back to hearing comfortably:
Allergic reactions – In some cases, users experiencing itching are having an allergic reaction to the hearing aid. This may be the material used in the hearing or the cleaning agent used to maintain the hearing aid. Tests can be run to determine if an allergy is to blame for your itchy ears.
Check your fit – When it comes to hearing aids, the most common reason for itchy ears is the fit. If the fit is too tight, it may cause the delicate skin to pull and stretch. If the fit is too loose, it can allow the hearing aid to slip and move or allow moisture to build up irritating the skin. With an accumulation of moisture, there is also the risk of bacterial and fungal growth. In any case, an inflammatory reaction can occur within the ear causing itching.
Maintain the ear environment – It’s not often that you hear advice like this, but maintaining the health of your ear is key to preventing or eliminating an itching sensation. Excessive wax, as well as an ear canal that is too clean, can result in itching. Wax buildup can trap moisture leading to itchiness so do see your hearing healthcare provider on a regular basis if you are prone to this. Also, cleaning your ears too well, removing the natural oils of the skin, can remove the protective barrier that helps to prevent skin irritation.
If you experience itchy ears from wearing hearing aids, know that you are not alone. Discuss the issue with your hearing healthcare provider to uncover the source of the irritation and stop it in its tracks. Your provider has a wealth of knowledge and experience to help you make your hearing aids a seamless part of your life.