Cerumen, also known as earwax, is naturally produced by the glands in the ears to lubricate the ear canals and keep dust and debris from getting too far down in the ear canal.
Cerumen typically clears itself from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Tinnitus (noise in the ear)
- Hearing loss
- Ear pressure
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at home or at your doctor's office, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.
How Not to Remove Earwax Buildup
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems as cotton swabs may push the blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing your eardrum.
Ear candles are specifically not recommended for removal of wax from the ears as they can be potentially dangerous.
In some instances, your physician may recommend use of over-the-counter ear wax removal products or mineral oil drops to soften wax. Carbamide peroxide is the main ingredient in most over-the counter products.
If the earwax blockage is more significant, it may need to be removed in your doctor's office. Doctors typically use one of two methods to remove earwax: irrigation or curettage.
Your Ear, Nose & Throat physician may use special instruments to remove wax from your ears. Often an operating microscope is used to examine the ear and a curette or suction tip may be used to carefully remove wax or debris from the ear.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax, or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you see your doctor as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax doesn't have to be painful and should bring you relief. The physicians at Vero ENT Associates are experts at removing wax.