Sign up for The Wire Newsletter!

Fuel for Thought

Starry Night


By Greg Huggins
Posted Mar 8th 2017 6:30AM

Hands free laws for cell phones while driving are a common thing these days. Many cars will have hands free devices built in and for everyone else there is Bluetooth devices and wired earbuds.

If you drive a commercial motor vehicle, Bluetooth is probably your hands free device to keep in touch while on the road. Bluetooth devices come in a wide variety of styles, but have you considered your ears?

"In ear" devices work very well, help eliminate background noise and are less bulky than "on the ear" headsets.

How many hours a day do you wear your device? How often do you clean your device?

Cerumen, commonly referred to as ear wax, is a naturally occurring secretion in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It is normal to to have ear wax. It is necessary to have ear wax. Ear wax protects and lubricates the ear canal. It protects the inner ear from dirt, water, insects, fungi and bacteria. It lubricates by keeping the ear moist, without it your ear would be dry, itchy and irritated. Once the oil is produced by the apocrine glands in the ear and mixes with sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, it moves to the outer ear where the air dries it, then it just sluffs off, if it can get out.Van Gogh

“In ear” devices, like earbuds or “in the ear” Bluetooth devices, block the airflow to the ear and also blocking the flow of ear wax to the outer ear. Also each time you insert an “in ear” device, you are pushing your ear wax deeper into your ear where it can cause a buildup of wax and create a blockage. Additionally, each time you insert the “in ear” device, you are introducing bacteria into your ear canal increasing the chances for an ear infection.

If you must use earbuds or any “in ear” device, such as hearing aids, ear plugs or Bluetooth devices, clean it frequently. Try to limit the amount of time using your “in ear” devices, if possible, remove when not in use and allow your ear to “air out”. In the case of ear plugs, replace them often.

A better choice would be “on ear” devices like headphones or headsets. These types of devices allow your ear to get more air and they do not block the flow of ear wax from the inner ear to the outer ear. Just as with “in ear” devices “on ear” devices should also be cleaned regularly as they are also in close contact with your ear and can also be a source of bacteria.

While “on ear” devices may be a little cumbersome or feel bulky, they are a much better choice for protecting your hearing.

If you insist on using “in ear” devices, clean your ears regularly. If you wear a Bluetooth device, have you noticed more wax in that ear? Have you noticed any hearing loss in that ear? Ear wax build up could be the cause. There are many products available for removing impacted ear wax, and many home remedies, but a cotton swab is not the answer.

See you down the road,


I have selective hearing.

- Eddie Van Halen


Please sign in or sign up to post a comment.  Or sign in with Facebook.