Ear Wax Removal | Ear Cleaning
Glands in the ear produce earwax, or cerumen, in order to trap and prevent dust and debris from deeply entering the ear canal. In most instances, earwax naturally clears from the ear canal. Sometimes, however, there is a build-up of earwax, thus resulting in earwax blockage of the ear canal. In some instances, you may be able to remove the earwax at home; however, often times, you may find that the severity and degree of earwax blockage requires a professional audiologist or ENT physician to remove the earwax.
Major earwax blockage symptoms
- Pressure in the ear
- Pain in the ear
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Hearing loss
Do not use cotton swabs to remove earwax
Cotton swabs are often attempted to be used for removing earwax at home. This can actually lead to greater problems as the earwax can be pushed deeper into the ear canal. There is also a risk of possible damage to the ear and rupturing of the ear drum from the swab itself. Cotton swabs are meant only for the outer ear; thus, the general consensus from medical professionals is that cotton swabs should not be inserted in the ear canal itself.
At-Home Earwax Removal
If the earwax issue is mild, an at-home ear wax removal kit may be offered by your audiologist or ENT specialist. You may even be able to buy these over-the-counter in most pharmacies. These kits generally include a dropper with a liquid solution to soften the earwax, which may cause you to feel a bubbling sensation, as well as a rubber-bulb syringe to be filled with warm water so to flush out the ear canal. It may take a few days to notice results, and it is important to note that these kits may be contraindicated in people with certain ear conditions. Therefore, to ensure safety, prior to using an at-home earwax removal kit, you should discuss the plan with your audiologist or ENT specialist first.
Removal at Your Doctor's Office
If the earwax issue is more severe, you may require an audiologist or ENT specialist to either use irrigation or curettage techniques to remove the earwax blockage. Irrigation is the more common technique, consisting of peroxide-based earwax break-down mediations combined with an irrigation tool. Less commonly, the curettage process is employed wherein a curette coupled with suction is used to scrape out the earwax.
If you believe you may have an earwax blockage, or experience symptoms such as ear pain, ear pressure, tinnitus, or hearing loss, visit your audiologist or ENT specialist as quickly as possible to gain relief and resolve your complications.