Cerumen, also known as earwax, is naturally produced by the glands in the ears to lubricate the ear canals and keep dust and debris from getting too far down in the ear canal.
Cerumen typically clears itself from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Tinnitus (noise in the ear)
- Hearing loss
- Ear pressure
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at home or at your doctor's office, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.
How Not to Remove Earwax Buildup
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems as cotton swabs may push the blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing 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.
REMOVAL AT SOUNDS FOR LIFE HEARING CLINIC
An earwax blockage should be removed by a professional.
At Sounds For Life, we have two Clinicians who are licensed with their cerumen removal certificate. To start, we like our patients to use mineral oil or Audiologist Choice cerumen softener (which can be purchased at our office) in their ears before we see them. This will soften the ear wax to ensure complete client comfort during the removal process.
We use two methods to remove earwax: irrigation and a curette. Irrigation is the most common method we will use to remove blockages. It is done by using an instrument that disperses warm water to the outer ridge of your ear canal and will flush out the blockage.
A curette is another instrument we may use during the removal process. It is a long, curved tool that will light up your ear canal so the blockage can be examined or removed.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax, or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you see one of our Clinicians as soon as possible to address the issue.