Ear wax. We all have it. It is a normal process in which the glands in our ear canals secrete a fluid that protects the ear from bugs, dirt and debris entering the ear canal.
The ear canal has a natural mechanism that moves the ear wax out of the ear. But sometimes, a blockage can occur and the ear wax continues to accumulate behind the blockage, especially if you wear hearing aids or earmolds.
Impacted ear wax (cerumen) can cause:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Decreased hearing
- Feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear
- Balance issues
If wax becomes impacted, it will most likely need to be removed.
Earwax removal methods to avoid
My mother told me, “Don’t put anything in your ear canal that is smaller that your elbow.”
Many people try to remove cerumen with a cotton swab. This is ineffective and can even make the impaction even worse. There are two effective ways of removing ear wax.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can compact wax further or puncture your eardrum.
Physicians generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.
At-home earwax removal
At-home removal kits are available at your local pharmacies for purchase or you may be given a kit from your Audiologist.
These kits will included a liquid that softens ear wax and a small rubber syringe. Many times, when the liquid is placed in the ear, you will experience a bubbling sensation. You may need to use this method for several days in order to get the cerumen softened and removed. Some people cannot use these kits, so it is important to speak with your Audiologist or Primary Care Physician before attempting.
Cerumen management at Quality Hearing & Audiology Center
The Audiologists at Quality Hearing & Audiology Center will use a curette to remove significant wax build-up. We us a long, lighted, curved tool that allows the Audiologist to gently remove earwax. This is the best way to ensure that your ear canal is clear of debris.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax or suspect you have a blockage, it’s important that you see your hearing health professional as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax doesn’t have to be painful and should bring you relief.