Ear Infections and Hearing Aids: Exploring the Connection

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As individuals with hearing loss rely on hearing aids to improve their auditory experience, they may encounter challenges such as ear infections. These infections can be particularly problematic, causing discomfort and inconvenience. This article aims to delve into the relationship between ear infections and hearing aids. By understanding the impact of middle ear and outer ear infections, recognizing the signs, and implementing preventive measures, hearing aid wearers can minimize the risks associated with infections and know what to do if they have an ear infection.

Middle Ear Infections and Their Impact on Hearing Aid UsersMiddle ear infections can affect hearing aid users, impacting sound transmission and causing discomfort. Collaboration with healthcare professionals is crucial for managing these infections effectively.
Outer Ear Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and EffectsOuter ear infections, such as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear, can be more prevalent among hearing aid wearers. Moisture buildup, trapped debris, and inadequate ventilation increase the risk. Prompt treatment and adherence to hygiene practices are essential.
Increased Risk of Ear Infections in Hearing Aid WearersHearing aids do not directly cause ear infections but study shows they contribute, poor maintenance and inadequate cleaning can introduce bacteria and contribute to infections.
Preventing Ear Infections While Wearing Hearing AidsEffective preventive measures include regular cleaning, keeping the ears dry, ensuring proper ventilation, and monitoring earwax. These strategies help minimize the risk of ear infections and maintain optimal ear health while using hearing aids.
Cleaning Your Hearing Aids: Effective StrategiesDaily cleaning using recommended techniques and solutions is crucial to prevent infections. Proper handling, cleaning earmolds or domes, and ensuring device dryness contribute to maintaining clean and hygienic hearing aids.
Dealing with Infections When Wearing Hearing AidsSeeking medical attention and temporarily discontinuing hearing aid usage are important if an ear infection is suspected. Maintaining good hygiene and following professional recommendations aid in infection management and facilitate proper healing.
Recognizing the Signs of an Ear InfectionBeing aware of signs such as pain, itching, discharge, and changes in hearing helps in recognizing ear infections. Seeking prompt medical attention for diagnosis and treatment is essential to address the infection effectively.
Protecting Yourself with an Ear Infection and Hearing AidsTaking specific precautions, such as maintaining good hygiene, following medical recommendations, temporarily discontinuing hearing aid usage if necessary, and keeping the affected ear dry, helps protect health and promote healing during an ear infection.
The Potential Connection: Can Hearing Aids Cause Ear Infections?While hearing aids themselves do not cause ear infections, certain factors associated with their use, such as inadequate cleaning and maintenance, can increase the risk. Regular attention to ear health is crucial to reduce the risk of both fungal and bacterial infections.

Outer Ear Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Effects on Hearing Aid Wearers

Outer ear infections, also called otitis externa or swimmer’s ear, affect the external ear canal. Hearing aid wearers may be at an increased risk of developing outer ear infections due to factors such as moisture buildup, trapped debris, or inadequate ventilation. These conditions can create an environment conducive to bacterial or fungal growth, leading to infection.

The symptoms of outer ear infections may include itching, redness, swelling, discharge, and pain. When wearing hearing aids, these symptoms can be further exacerbated due to the close contact between the device and the infected ear canal. Users may experience increased discomfort or difficulty inserting and wearing their hearing aids. See my complete article about wearing a hearing aid during an ear infection. Seeking prompt medical attention and following appropriate treatment protocols are essential for managing outer ear infections and preventing complications.

The Potential Connection: Can Hearing Aids Cause Ear Infections? YES

The study conducted by Foster Tochukwu Orji, Emmanuel O. Onyero, and Christian Ejiofor Agbo examined the nature of debris and the microbial flora of ears in hearing aid users. The study aimed to evaluate the factors contributing to ear irritations in this population.

The results of the study indicated that ears with hearing aids do have an impact on ear infections. Results showed a significant presence of canal debris, including wax, fungal deposits, and bacterial exudates, compared to ears without hearing aids. Microorganisms were also more prevalent in ears with hearing aids. The study found a significant association between intolerable irritations in hearing aid-wearing ears and bacterial and fungal otitis externa, as well as ear discharge.

These findings highlight the importance of regular attention to ear health for hearing aid users. Periodic de-waxing and the use of topical antimicrobial agents, when indicated, can help maintain ear hygiene and reduce the risk of both fungal and bacterial ear infections. It is crucial for hearing aid wearers to be proactive in their ear care and seek professional guidance for optimal hearing aid use and ear health.

Understanding Middle Ear Infections and Their Impact on Hearing Aid Users

Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, occur when the space behind the eardrum becomes inflamed and infected. While hearing aids are not directly responsible for causing middle ear infections, they can exacerbate the symptoms or complicate the treatment process. It is essential for hearing aid users to work closely with their healthcare professionals to manage these infections effectively.

Middle ear infections can affect hearing aid users in several ways. The presence of fluid or infection in the middle ear can impact the transmission of sound through the ear canal, leading to decreased hearing aid performance. The aid will simply not be loud enough.

You can try to increase the volume of the hearing aid temporally if you still want to wear the device.

Additionally, the discomfort caused by the infection can make wearing hearing aids uncomfortable or even painful. It is important for users to communicate any changes in their hearing or increased discomfort to their audiologist for appropriate adjustments and treatment.

Increased Risk of Ear Infections in Hearing Aid Wearers: Is There a Link?

While hearing aids themselves do not directly cause ear infections, certain factors associated with their use may increase the risk. One of the primary risk factors is inadequate cleaning and maintenance of hearing aids. When hearing aids are not cleaned regularly, wax, debris, and bacteria can accumulate on the device and potentially enter the ear canal, leading to infection. Additionally, the close-fitting nature of hearing aids may create a warm and humid environment that promotes bacterial or fungal growth.

To minimize the risk of ear infections, hearing aid users should adopt proper cleaning and maintenance practices. This includes daily cleaning of the hearing aids, regular replacement of filters or wax guards, and keeping the devices dry when not in use. It is wise to clean the hearing aid with a disinfectant such as audio wipes. Consultation with an audiologist can provide specific guidelines on effective cleaning techniques and recommended cleaning solutions.

Dealing with Infections When Wearing Hearing Aids: What to Do

In the unfortunate event of an ear infection, hearing aid users need to know how to manage the situation. If an infection is suspected, it is crucial to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional, such as a physician or otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist).

Audiologists as not medical providers and can not treat your ear infection.

It’s important to note that while audiologists are highly trained professionals who specialize in the evaluation and management of hearing and balance disorders, they are not medical doctors and cannot treat ear infections. Audiologists can work in collaboration with medical providers to ensure comprehensive care for individuals with both hearing loss and ear infections.

During the infection, Audiologist typically advises to temporarily discontinue wearing the hearing aids until the infection has resolved. This allows the ear to heal and prevents further irritation or complications.

Notify Audiologist of Recurrent Infections

If ear infections are recurrent for individuals wearing hearing aids, it may be necessary to consider changing the type of hearing aid or earmold being used. See here my recommendation on current hearing aids. Certain factors, such as improper fit or ventilation, can contribute to the recurrence of infections. Consulting with an audiologist is crucial in such cases, as they can assess the situation and recommend appropriate adjustments or alternative options.

By informing the audiologist about recurrent infections, individuals can work together to find a suitable hearing aid or earmold type that promotes better ear health and reduces the risk of future infections. Regular communication with the audiologist ensures personalized care and helps address any concerns related to infections and hearing aid usage.

Recognizing the Signs of an Ear Infection: Important Information for Hearing Aid Users

Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of an ear infection is vital for timely intervention. Hearing aid users should be aware of the following indicators that may suggest an infection:

  • Pain or discomfort: Persistent or worsening pain in the ear can be a sign of infection.
  • Itching or irritation: Unusual itching or irritation in the ear canal may indicate an underlying infection.
  • Discharge: Discharge from the ear, such as pus or fluid, can be a sign of infection.
  • Decreased hearing: A sudden or gradual decrease in hearing ability can be associated with an infection.
  • Redness and swelling: Inflamed, red, or swollen ear canal may indicate an infection.

If any of these signs are experienced, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Preventing Ear Infections While Wearing Hearing Aids: Helpful Tips

Implementing preventive strategies is key to reducing the likelihood of ear infections in hearing aid users. In addition to maintaining regular cleaning practices, there are several other measures that can be taken to minimize the risk:

  1. Keep the ears dry: Moisture in the ear canal can create an environment favorable for bacterial or fungal growth. It is essential to dry the ears thoroughly after swimming or showering and to avoid using hearing aids with wet ears.
  2. Ensure proper ventilation: Adequate ventilation of the ear canal is important for maintaining ear health. Hearing aid users should choose devices that allow for proper airflow and avoid occluding the ear canal excessively. This is accomplished by keeping the vent clean in the hearing aid.
  3. Monitor and manage earwax: Excessive earwax can contribute to ear infections and interfere with hearing aid performance. Regular monitoring and removal of excess earwax by a healthcare professional can help prevent complications.
  4. Follow professional recommendations: Consulting with an audiologist or hearing healthcare professional for regular check-ups and adjustments is essential. They can provide personalized advice based on individual needs and address any concerns or potential issues.

By incorporating these strategies into their daily routine, hearing aid users can ensure their devices contribute to better hearing without compromising ear health.

Cleaning Your Hearing Aids: Effective Strategies for Infection Prevention

Proper cleaning techniques are essential for preventing ear infections. Daily cleaning of hearing aids should include removing earwax or debris from the device, cleaning the earmolds or domes, and disinfecting any removable parts.

For cleaning the hearing aids, a soft, dry cloth or tissue can be used to wipe the exterior surfaces. Avoid using water or harsh chemicals that could damage the devices, but you may use Audio Wipes.

Regular cleaning not only helps prevent infections but also ensures optimal performance and prolongs the lifespan of hearing aids. By incorporating these cleaning strategies into their daily routine, users can maintain clean and hygienic devices.

Protecting Yourself with an Ear Infection and Hearing Aids: Key Steps to Follow

When facing an ear infection while wearing hearing aids, users should take specific precautions to protect their health and promote healing. The following steps are important to consider:

  1. Maintain good hygiene: Keep the affected ear clean by gently wiping the outer ear with a clean, soft cloth. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal without medical advice.
  2. Follow medical recommendations: Adhere to the prescribed medications, eardrops, or treatments recommended by the healthcare professional.
  3. Temporarily discontinue hearing aid usage: In consultation with a healthcare professional, it may be necessary to temporarily stop wearing the hearing aids until the infection has resolved. This allows the ear to heal and prevents further irritation.
  4. Keep the affected ear dry: Avoid exposing the infected ear to water or excessive moisture. Use a shower cap or earplugs during bathing or swimming to protect the ear from water entry.
  5. Follow-up with a healthcare professional: Regular follow-up appointments with the healthcare professional are crucial to monitor the progress of the infection, ensure proper healing, and discuss the appropriate timing for resuming hearing aid use.

By following these steps, hearing aid users can help protect their health, promote healing, and minimize the risk of complications during an ear infection.


Can hearing aids cause ear infections?

No, hearing aids themselves do not directly cause ear infections. However, certain factors associated with their use, such as improper cleaning or maintenance, can increase the risk of ear infections. It’s important to properly clean and maintain hearing aids to minimize this risk.

What should I do if I suspect an ear infection while wearing hearing aids?

If you suspect an ear infection, it is recommended to seek medical attention from an otolaryngologist or a healthcare professional. They can properly diagnose and treat the infection. Additionally, inform your audiologist about the situation so they can provide guidance on appropriate steps to take regarding your hearing aids.

How can I prevent ear infections while wearing hearing aids?

To prevent ear infections, it’s important to maintain good hygiene and proper cleaning of your hearing aids. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance. Avoid excessive moisture in the ear canal, keep your ears dry, and consult with your audiologist for personalized recommendations on infection prevention strategies.

Can changing the type of hearing aid or earmold help with recurrent ear infections?

Yes, in some cases, changing the type of hearing aid or earmold can be beneficial for individuals experiencing recurrent ear infections. Poor fit or inadequate ventilation can contribute to infection recurrence. It’s important to discuss your situation with your audiologist, as they can assess and recommend suitable options to improve ear health and reduce the risk of future infections.

Jonathan Javid Au.D.

Jonathan Javid Au.D., a seasoned audiologist with an extensive background in the field of audiology. With over 11 years of invaluable clinical experience, Jonathan has dedicated his career to helping individuals enhance their hearing and improve their quality of life.

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