Although ear wax was is required to maintain a healthy ear, a build up often occurs. In some cases that build up can be significant enough to cause temporary hearing loss.
Ear wax build up is normal – it has nothing to do with hygiene and no one should be embarrassed by it.
The ear canal has its own self-cleaning mechanism made up of small hairs in the canal that help the ear wax and dead skin cells move towards the canal entrance. If the ear canal lacks the small hairs, narrows or has an unusual shape the movement of ear wax and skin cells is impeded. The result is a build-up of ear wax that requires removal.
Ear wax lubricates the skin and helps prevent dust and airborne bacteria from entering
Symptoms of Excessive Ear Wax Build Up:
- The ear feels “full”.
- Sounds feel muffled or under water.
- Mild tinnitus – intermittent ringing in the ears, buzzing sounds or other phantom sounds.
- Hearing loss (to varying degrees) after swimming or showering.
Any of the above symptoms could be indicative of excess ear wax blocking your ear canal.
How to Remove Ear Wax
Ear wax can be removed by a number of methods. The ear cleaning method many people think of first is to use a cotton swab aka a Q-Tip – never put a Q-tip into your ear canal! Using a cotton swab can push the wax backwards against the ear drum making the problem worse. It’s important to remember the lining of the ear canal is very delicate and your ear drum can possibly be punctured.
Never Poke Anything Down Your Ear – Ever!
Ear wax cleaning kits such as the Debrox Earwax Removal Kit are available over the counter (OTC) from the drug store and our office in the Polo Park Mall. They consist of an oil solution that is dripped into the ear that will soften the ear wax build up. A bulb and warm water can then be used to irrigate the ear and remove the excess ear wax.
Stubborn Ear Wax Removal
This is where we refer you to your family doctor. They have the use of a scope to see a magnified image of your ear and visually diagnose the problem. Using irrigation and mechanical means they can remove even the most impacted ear wax without risking damage to the ear canal and ear drum.
Avoid ear candling as it has been shown to be ineffective in removing ear wax