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3 Possible Hearing Aid Side Effects You Should Know

By Amanda Vining
Even though there are side effects to wearing hearing aids, the degree to which side effects are experienced is usually very mild.

If you find yourself struggling to hear sounds, hearing aids may be an option to help restore your auditory capabilities. But it’s important to be aware of some hearing aid side effects first.

Hearing aids are small battery-powered electronic devices that are worn either in or behind your ear and help to make noises and sounds louder and clearer for patients who have experienced hearing loss. 

“As effective as [hearing aids] are, they have some side effects such as soreness of the skin, itchiness in the ear canal, and headaches,” Benjamin Todd Thatcher, DO, CMRO, of Valley Behavioral Health in Salt Lake City, Utah, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

The good news is that most side effects of hearing aid use are not too bothersome for most people. A 2019 study published by the American Academy of Audiology found that the majority of adults with hearing loss who use hearing aids experience some side effects but the degree of those side effects are usually mild. 

Here are some side effects of hearing aids you should know:

Earwax Build-up

Earwax is a normal product within our ear canals that can help trap dust and particles. However, hearing aid users are more prone to excess earwax buildup. “Hearing aids cause earwax to build up by stimulating excess production of earwax from the glands of the ear canal,” says Thatcher. 

According to a 2019 article published in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) entitled “Top 5 Problems with Hearing Aids,” if too much earwax builds up in your ear then you may hear a whistling sound while wearing your hearing aids. The whistling is a result of high pitched frequencies that, when combined with the impaction of earwax, can block the sound coming out of your hearing aids and result in a whistle. If you find that your hearing aids are causing earwax to accumulate within your ear canals, meet with your doctor to discuss solutions such as in-office earwax removal and over-the-counter solutions. 

Skin Irritation and Itchiness

Feeling itchy is one of the most annoying sensations, and not scratching an itch can take a lot of self-discipline. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there is a breaking-in period where most patients are given a trial period to see if their hearing aids are right for them. During the trial period, it is possible to experience discomfort and itchiness as you adjust to wearing hearing aids. Although the itching sensation may be nagging at you, it is advised that you do not attempt to scratch your ear canal as doing so may result in the buildup of earwax, thus creating two problems at once (discomfort and earwax impaction). 

Soreness in the ear canal can also be a signal that your hearing aids are not the right fit and may need to be adjusted, according to the AARP. 

Headaches

As you go from being unable to hear sounds clearly to be able to hear sounds around you with the help of hearing aids, you may experience some headaches. According to the AARP, if you have waited too long between the onset of your hearing loss and getting hearing aids, then the probability of headaches is higher. Consult with your doctor about how to minimize headaches while your ears adjust to the new auditory exposure.   

Hearing Loss Can Be Treated and Managed.

In many cases, hearing loss is a treatable condition. It is worth taking the time out to get the answers and treatment you or your loved one deserves. Don’t wait. Start today.