What most people call ear wax develops because our ear canals are covered with hair follicles and glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen. This wax lines the interior surface of the ear canal and helps to protect it by attracting and gathering alien debris such as dirt and dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Ear wax also helps to avoid discomfort when the hypersensitive skin of the ear canal is exposed to water; There is nothing unnatural or unhealthy about ear wax or the production of it.
In the majority of people, ear wax ultimately makes its way to the outer sections of the ear, where it either falls out or is washed away when we clean our ears. But, the glands in some people’s ears produce more wax than usual. Because of this, the wax builds up and may harden, blocking the ear canal and keeping sound waves from getting to your inner ear. The accumulation of ear wax is one of the most commonly seen grounds for hearing problems, in people of any age.
Signs of ear wax blockage normally include earaches, a feeling that the ear is clogged up, a chronic ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial hearing loss, which has a tendency to get gradually more serious. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, since the sound waves are hindered from hitting the eardrum, as opposed to sensorineural, as the consequence of some physiological defect. Hearing problems caused by excess ear wax, fortunately, can be easily diagnosed and remedied.
If you have suffered some or all of the symptoms above, come in to our clinic where our specialists can easily and painlessly determine if the cause is a build up of ear wax. If it is, an excessive build-up of ear wax is readily treated, either at home or at the office.
If an audiologist says that you have excessive ear wax that is obstructing your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself in your own home. One important thing not to attempt, however, is to use a cotton swab or Q-tip, which tends to just compress the ear wax, not remove it. Instead, add a few drops of glycerin, baby oil, mineral oil, or commercial ear drops made for this purpose to each ear, let them stay in the ear for a few minutes to loosen up the wax, and then rinse the loosened wax out, using body-temperature water. (Please note: using either hot or cold water to irrigate your ears can lead to feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) Pharmacies sell small bulb-like syringes that can be used to irrigate the ear after the wax has been loosened, aiding the process. Do not try to use a WaterPik or any other jet irrigator created for the teeth because the pressure of the spray might injure the eardrum, and don’t try any form of irrigation at home if you know that your eardrum has been punctured.
If these home treatments don’t seem to solve the blockage, call or visit us for help.