Generally, ear wax is good for the ears. In fact, it is best to leave it alone. Earwax serves as a natural cleanser of the ear as it shifts from the ear canal outward, bringing along dead skin cells, dirt, debris, and other foreign objects along the way. It has also been scientifically proven that earwax has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Ears with inadequate earwax tend to be itchy and uncomfortable.
However, too much earwax can lead to blockage and related hearing problems. DIY earwax removal, if done incorrectly, may do more harm than good. The best way to deal with earwax concerns is to see a professional for a consultation. Cary Audiology provides professional earwax removal services in Cary, NC.
Ear Wax (Cerumen) Removal
After examining your ear with an otoscope, the audiologist will remove the impacted wax with one of three ways:
Using a magnified headlight, the audiologist will remove non-impacted cerumen using a curette, a small stainless steel instrument.
Depending on how deep and impacted the cerumen is, the audiologist may use earwax softener and suction to remove the wax.
Irrigation using the EarigatorTM
Designed by an otologist to provide the most advanced means of cerumen removal. The ear is irrigated with pressure-controlled water, regulated to body temperature. If the cerumen is impacted this method is often the most comfortable and efficient means of removal.
Side Effects of Excessive Earwax
An ear canal that produces excessive earwax is at risk of being plugged up which could lead to ear aches, infections, and other auditory problems. Earwax lodged in a certain way can even cause a cough by stimulating the branch of the vagus nerve that is connected to the outer ear. In most cases, excessive earwax may result in some level of hearing loss.
How is earwax developed?
Earwax is made from a combination of skin cells of the auditory canal and secretions from two glands. The auditory canal has a self-cleaning mechanism that makes the skin renew itself. As dead skin cells are sloughed off, they are pulled in to produce earwax. Earwax also has secretions from two glands – the sebaceous and ceruminous glands.
Earwax Removal Tips
For safe and efficient earwax removal, a professional hearing healthcare practitioner should perform the procedure. There are numerous DIY earwax removal kits available and while they may provide temporary relief, there are risks associated with DIY, especially if the instructions are not correctly followed.
Speaking of DIY earwax removal, there’s one common thing people do that actually puts their ears at risk – attempt to remove the earwax with a cotton swab or Q-tip. Trying to dislodge the earwax using cotton swabs may inadvertently push the wax deeper into the ear.
Putting pointed objects inside the ear will only cause more problems. The safest “first aid” earwax removal, while waiting for your doctor’s appointment, is to use hydrogen peroxide or a saline solution. Place a few drops into the affected ear with the head tilted at an angle where the ear is pointing up. Stay in that position for a few minutes to allow absorption of the solution. You can then tilt your head the other way to let the fluid (and hopefully the excess wax) drain out.
Some DIY earwax removal kits have a bulb syringe to flush out the earwax but this is a tricky procedure especially if you are going to do it alone. The safest method of earwax removal is to let an audiologist do it for you in a clinic using the right tools and equipment.
Are over-the-counter ear drops effective?
For individuals with mild earwax problems, OTC ear drops may be effective. In most cases, over-the-counter ear drops may provide temporary relief from itchiness brought about by earwax. However, for deeply-impacted earwax, over-the-counter ear drops may not be sufficient.
Using a bulb syringe is also discouraged for individuals with a perforated eardrum. When water gets into the middle ear, there is a higher risk of infection and complications. If you are not sure about the status of your earwax dilemma, the best course of action is to schedule a consultation with an audiologist.
Audiologists are trained to tackle earwax blockage and have the necessary tools to perform safe, fast, and efficient earwax removal.
Is ear candling safe?
Ear candling should be avoided at all costs. Aside from there being no scientific evidence that ear candling is effective, ear candles are not FDA-approved. The concept behind ear candling is that it supposedly creates a negative pressure vacuum that forces the earwax and dirt out of the ear canal. However, scientists have measured the ear pressure during ear candling sessions and found that there is no negative air pressure created.
Can hearing aids trigger earwax production?
Hearing aids can trigger cerumen production while simultaneously blocking the path of the earwax’s migration. This is why audiologists recommend regular cleaning of hearing aids, because earwax may tend to stick to the device as it is used for long hours on a daily basis.
People who wear hearing aids should undergo professional earwax removal on a regular basis to avoid earwax buildup that could cause hearing concerns or damage to the hearing device.
Earwax Removal – Cary, NC
If you experience muffled hearing or notice that your hearing aids are not as functional as they used to be, earwax may be the culprit. As part of our comprehensive hearing care services, Cary Audiology offers earwax removal services and related ear cleaning treatments.
Our audiologists at Cary Audiology will be happy to take a look inside your ears to check if there’s a blockage or impaction caused by earwax. A professional earwax removal session will ensure that your ears are clean and free of any dirt and blockage.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!