Ear wax (cerumen) provides valuable protection and cleaning benefits to ears. It forms a greasy-like substance, which flakes off with jaw movement during chewing or speaking.
Earwax accumulation can block ears and lead to discomfort. Your ENT doctor can use several methods of safely extracting this build-up from your ears, including:
1. Ear Wax is Dirty
Earwax is an essential part of the body’s natural processes, particularly for outer ears. It helps maintain moisture balance within the ear canal to avoid dry, itchy ears; contains chemicals to fight germs that could cause infections; acts as a buffer between dust, dirt and other objects entering our ears and the eardrum; traps dust particles before reaching it and potentially harming middle ear bones; prevents infections of eardrum.
Ear wax doesn’t usually need to be removed – it simply migrates toward the ear opening, falls out, or is rinsed away during showering or hair washing. If your child has excessive earwax build-up, however, you may wish to consult a medical provider about over-the-counter eardrops that soften it so it can either fall out on its own or be professionally removed by medical personnel.
However, you should never attempt to remove earwax yourself with cotton-tipped swabs or other objects in the ear canal. Poking at it with these objects could push it deeper into your canal or rupture your eardrum; similarly for ear candling – placing a hollow cone made of paraffin and beeswax into the canal with a lit flame is believed by some to work effectively while clinical trials have demonstrated otherwise.
If you have an abundance of earwax, it may be easier for a healthcare provider to remove it in an office with an ear spoon or suction device. Glycerin or mineral oil can sometimes soften it before removal via an ear syringe. However, if symptoms of hearing loss or dizziness arise due to buildup of earwax at home such as hearing loss or dizziness arise as well, instead of trying to do it on your own at home; impaction must be addressed immediately by health care providers as soon as possible and then advise on how best to clean them yourself at home safely when cleaning them safely cleaning.
2. Ear Wax is a Symptom
Most people’s ear wax naturally moves from the outer part of their ear canal to their ear opening, where it is either washed away by water or falls out, and replaced by fresh wax produced. But sometimes this process gets interrupted or too much sticky or hard wax is produced which clogs up their canal, leading to symptoms like itching, earache, muffled hearing or feeling as if something is stuck inside them. If this occurs frequently enough it can result in symptoms like itching, earache or something stuck inside one or all three!
Most health care providers recommend leaving earwax alone, and warn against attempts to reach inside the ears with cotton swabs, fingers or other objects to attempt removal of it. Any attempt could push further wax deeper into the ear canal or harden into an impenetrable mass impossible to get out without professional medical help.
An additional risk associated with trying to remove earwax yourself is infection. Ear canal and eardrum structures are delicate, and any foreign object such as earwax could easily puncture it or lead to an ear infection. Therefore, when someone experiences symptoms like itching, ringing in their ears, hearing loss, etc it’s essential they visit a physician quickly for an examination and diagnosis.
Doctors can check for buildup of earwax in an ear canal and determine whether it needs to be removed. Most often, this can be accomplished simply by irrigating with warm water to loosen and then expel any excess wax; in more serious cases however, they might use an instrument known as a curette or suction device to suction out all or some of it from within it.
People who regularly experience earwax impaction are at increased risk of experiencing complications that cannot be remedied through irrigation alone, including perforations of the eardrum or otitis media. Therefore, those experiencing regular buildup should make regular appointments with their primary healthcare provider for examination of their ears to ensure that earwax formation and removal occur accordingly.
3. Ear Wax is a Complication
Earwax is an essential component of our body’s natural defense system that serves to clean, coat, and protect our ear canal. Furthermore, it helps avoid blockages and infections that could otherwise arise in it.
If you have an excessive buildup of earwax, health care providers are there to assist. First they will identify whether it’s normal or an indicator of something more serious; they may use an otoscope or suction. Your doctor can use a small curved tool called a curet to gently remove it or ask you to place drops into your ears several times a day to soften and encourage its drainage out.
Do not attempt to remove earwax yourself using Q-tips, cotton swabs, or any other household objects; doing so could push more earwax deeper into the ear canal resulting in impaction and blockages that make hearing difficult. Furthermore, it would be dangerous if you have perforated an eardrum, an infection in the ear canal, tinnitus or have had surgery performed on either ear.
Your doctor may ask you to gently flush your ear with water or a salt solution in their office, tilting your head so the opening of your ear canal points upward. Keep holding in for one or two minutes to allow fluids to move down through earwax into its natural course before tipping it the opposite direction and letting earwax drain from its proper channel.
Hearing aids, narrow or curvy ear canals, skin conditions that cause dryness and flaking or any combination thereof are the main sources of earwax blockage. All these issues prevent natural drainage of earwax production as well as leading to overproduction that is hard to manage. Dr Ying advises those wearing hearing protection or earbuds regularly should flush their ears regularly with water to flush away excess earwax and look out for signs of an impacted blockage in order to maintain optimal hearing health.
4. Ear Wax is a Sign
Earwax is a natural substance that protects and keeps ears healthy by trapping dirt, microorganisms and other irritants in its sticky layers. Earwax production comes from two glands — ceruminous and sebaceous — with ceruminous functioning like sweat glands located just outside your ear canal while sebaceous releases oil to lubricate its passageway, both producing secretions which combine with dead skin cells to form soft yet sticky earwax that moves down towards its opening where it either washes away or falls out as new wax replaces it.
If earwax doesn’t move properly, it can build up and block your ear canal, becoming dry and hard, giving the appearance of something stuck inside your ear canal. Unfortunately, trying to remove earwax yourself can create more problems as this typically pushes more wax deeper into your ear, possibly damaging your eardrum in the process.
When it comes to earwax build-up, primary care doctors can be of invaluable assistance. They’ll examine your ear canal for any signs that would indicate infection or perforation of the tympanic membrane and may recommend home treatments such as irrigation or manual removal of earwax with microsuction.
Home treatment generally involves placing a few drops of baby oil in your ear canal to soften earwax and encourage it to fall out naturally. You could also run room temperature water (not cooler water which may cause dizziness and vertigo) through your ear canal to wash out any accumulated wax; take care not to get water into your eardrum as that could lead to an infection in the long run.
If you have an perforated eardrum or cholesteatoma, manual removal of earwax will likely be recommended by healthcare providers. This involves using an instrument with a small hoop at its end to scoop out the wax like you might use tweezers. Your healthcare provider may also suggest ear candling as another medical procedure which uses hollow candles placed into your ears before lighting them, in theory creating a vacuum effect and drawing out excess earwax; however limited clinical trials have revealed this practice does not work and could potentially pose risks for patients.