What we call ear wax occurs because our ear canals are lined with hair follicles and glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen. This wax lines the inner surface of the ear canal and helps to protect it by attracting and gathering foreign debris like dirt and dust, bacteria, and various microorganisms. Another reason for ear wax is to defend the hypersensitive skin of the ear canal if it is exposed to moisture; Thus, the production of ear wax is both natural and healthy.
Typically, ear wax gradually makes its way to the opening of the ear, where it comes out on its own can be removed when we rinse out our ears. However, the glands in some people’s ears produce more wax than normal. The excess ear wax can accumulate in the ear canal and become hard, creating a blockage which keeps sound waves from getting to your eardrum. For that reason, the buildup of excess ear wax is, for people of all ages, among the most common reasons for hearing difficulties.
Indications of ear wax obstruction include things like earaches, a feeling that the ear is closed up, a persistent ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial hearing loss, which seems to get steadily more serious. This is a type of conductive (as opposed to sensorineural) hearing loss, in which the sound waves are impeded from getting to the eardrum. Thankfully, this cause of hearing loss is easily diagnosed and remedied.
If you have suffered some or all of the symptoms previously mentioned, come in to our clinic where our specialists can quickly and painlessly check to see whether the cause is a build up of ear wax. If this is the situation, there are hassle-free treatments to remove the excess ear wax that can be performed either at home, or in the office.
If an audiologist tells you that you have excess ear wax that is obstructing your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself right at home. Don’t attempt to use a cotton swab, which can cause the ear wax to become even more compacted. A better home treatment is to add drops of mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, or commercial ear drops to each ear, allow them to loosen the wax build-up, and then rinse it out using water at body temperature. (Please note: using either cold and hot water to irrigate your ears can lead to feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) Drug stores sell small bulb-like syringes that can be used to flush the ear after the wax has been loosened, facilitating the process. Two more things not to do are to 1) use a jet irrigator such as a WaterPik because its spray is too powerful and may cause damage to your eardrums, and 2) use any kind of irrigation at home if you know for sure that you have a punctured eardrum.
If these home remedies don’t manage to solve the blockage, call or visit us for assistance.