What most people call ear wax develops because our ear canals are covered with hair follicles and glands that generate an oily wax called cerumen. The purpose of this wax is to line the interior surface of the ear canal and guard it by collecting bacteria, dirt and dust, and miroorganisms. Ear wax also helps to prevent discomfort when the sensitive skin of the ear canal is exposed to moisture; Thus, the creation of ear wax is both normal and healthy.
Ordinarily, ear wax makes its way to the opening of the ear, where it comes out on its own or is removed when we wash our ears. In a few people, however, the glands in their ear canals make more ear wax than is usual. The surplus ear wax can build up in the ear canal and harden, creating a blockage which keeps sound waves from getting to your eardrum. Consequently, the buildup of excess ear wax is, for people of all ages, one of the most common reasons for hearing difficulties.
Signs of ear wax blockage include things like earaches, a sensation that the ear is clogged up, a consistent ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial loss of hearing, which seems to get steadily more serious. This kind of hearing loss is known as conductive, since the sound waves are hindered from hitting the eardrum, as opposed to sensorineural, as the result of some biological defect. Hearing loss brought on by excessive ear wax, fortunately, can be easily diagnosed and treated.
If you have experienced some or all of the signs and symptoms above, come in to our clinic where our hearing care specialists can quickly and painlessly determine whether the cause is a build up of ear wax. If it is, an abnormal accumulation of ear wax is easily treated, either at home or at the office.
If a hearing specialist tells you that you have excessive ear wax that is obstructing your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself at home. One important thing not to do, however, is to use a Q-tip, which tends to just compact the ear wax, not get rid of it. A much better home remedy is to add drops of glycerin, mineral oil, baby oil, or commercial ear drops to each ear, let them loosen the wax buildup, and then wash it out using water at body temperature. (Cold or hot water may cause feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) To wash out the ear drops, consider purchasing one of the bulb-shaped syringes sold by drug stores, which are intended to make the irrigation process simplier and easier. Two more things not to do are to 1) use a jet irrigator such as a WaterPik because its spray is too powerful and can cause damage to your eardrums, and 2) use any form of irrigation at home if you know for certain that you have a punctured eardrum.
If these home treatments do not seem to solve the blockage, call or visit us for assistance.