Hearing aid users should be assessed for ear wax problems

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 15, 2008

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Physicians should determine if their patients who use hearing aids have ear wax build up interfering with the effectiveness of these devices. If this appears to be a problem, cerumenolytic agents, irrigation or manual removal should be used to clear the blockage, according to guidelines on the subject issued last month by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

This document, which was published as a supplement to the September Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, also called for physicians to treat ear wax impaction that causes symptoms or prevents a medical exam of the area. Consideration also should be given to counseling about prevention of this problem, such as not using cotton swabs in the area.

"The complications from cerumen impaction can be painful and ongoing, including infectious and hearing loss," said Peter S. Roland, MD, chair of the academy's cerumen impaction guideline panel. "It is hoped that these guidelines will give clinicians the tools they need to spot an issue early and avoid serious outcomes."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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