What is ear wax?
Ear wax or the medical term cerumen is the waxy substance in our ear canals. The ear wax can come in different consistencies which is affected by your heritage, genetic make up, health conditions, medications and if you stimulate production. Most of the time the cerumen or ear wax keeps our ear canals healthy by catching and moving debris out of the canal such as hair, dust and other items. It has a noxious odor and taste (please just take our word on this) to dissuade anything to crawl into your ear. Letting ear wax do what it is made for keeps the ear very healthy, but some people do produce too much or push the wax down the ear canal with a cotton swab or other object and sloughing of the skin can not push it out. When there is a build up the canal can become blocked and the individual may have a temporary hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears or other problems
Why is ear wax removal important?
If the canal is blocked with wax and you try to remove yourself, you can do more harm than good. The canal skin along the wall is very thin and giving yourself a blood blister is very easy. Have a professional do it with the proper tools who can see down the canal and see what type of wax is produced and determine the best way to remove.
If there is an overproduction of wax and the wax is very hard and not soft and waxy then pushing the ball of wax into the eardrum is a very real possibility. One should also be aware of medications or health conditions that affect skin health when working in the canal. We do this every day and we know the signs and symptoms and can look in the ear to help devise the best treatment plan.
Think about the answers to these questions when you’re preparing for your appointment with us:
Do you have sudden tinnitus (a ringing type noise) that just started along with a plugged feeling. This can be earwax, but it can also be a sudden hearing loss which should be treated within the first 24 hours of onset, we should look in the canals, remove the wax if it is there or get you into a specialist if another very important treatment is needed.
Earwax and hearing aids are always a challenging mix. We need the earwax but there are times the ear “sees” the hearing aid as a forien body and increases production to get the foreign body “out” of the canal. If the wax is very sticky then it can clog up the speaker or receiver of the hearing aid easily. Hearing aids have filters to protect the speaker, but they have to be changed to be effective. Some people have to change the filter every other week and some do not have to change for months at a time. It is not the hearing aids “fault” you have waxy ears, and your production can change at anytime throughout life. We devise a treatment plan to keep up with the wax in the ears and your hearing aids so it isn’t as frustrating for you.
Can you remove ear wax at home?
Sometimes we do set up treatment plans at home for wax removal, if there is not a health condition that would put you more at risk for infection or bleeding. If there is a change in your health or medications we would want to know right away and make sure the treatment plan you are on is still appropriate. DO NOT do candling! This is a very dangerous home remedy which does not work, you can place the funnel in an empty bottle and you will see the same “excretions” as they show on those videos. Why would you place an open flame next to your head?
How do you know if you have ear wax build up?
The effects of too much ear wax is itchy ears, feeling of fullness, tinnitus, dizziness and hearing loss. All of these symptoms can be signs of other health issues as well. It is best to have a Doctor of Audiology look in the ear canals to see if there is an abnormal buildup of wax.
How do you flush out ear wax?
We have this fantastic machine called the Earigator. Dr McNamara was introduced to it on one of her Humanitarian trips in South Africa in 2018. The basin of water is heated to body temperature and is then used to flush out the ear canal. On humanitarian trips we see up to 1300 people in 3 days and before the Earigator we might have gotten to 100 people in those 3 days to remove wax with other methods but we were able to clean 300 people in South Africa when we used the Earigator. It has been a complete game changer.
Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?
If the hydrogen peroxide is diluted (4 parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide) then it can be used safely. It is not recommended to use full strength hydrogen peroxide on your skin especially on a regular basis. It drys out the skin and can cause extreme irritation.
Is ear wax removal painful?
If the ear wax has been impacted for many years there can be some discomfort. We are very skilled in knowing the type of wax and if it has adhered to the canal wall. We can provide drops to soften the wax and make it easier to remove.
Can you use cotton swabs to clean your ears?
Please do not use swabs, most of the time the wax is pushed down farther into the canal and can not work itself out. Another side effect is causing a blood blister on the canal was since the skin is so thin and lastly it stimulates the ear wax glands to produce more wax!