A combination of sweat, oil, and dead skin cells, cerumen is regulated by the apocrine glands, which regulate your sweat.
Although it is unpleasant to think of, cerumen provides three essential functions in your body:
- It stops dirt and bacteria from entering your inner ears;
- It keeps your ear canals and outer ears from getting dry and flaky
- It repels little critters such as insects from entering your ear canals.
Can you have too much earwax?
Your body knows how to get rid of cerumen, and it exits your ears naturally in most cases. When you chew or talk, cerumen is loosened and expelled naturally. However, there are instances where there is overproduction of cerumen, which could obstruct your hearing.
Signs of overaccumulation of cerumen include:
- Earache, fullness in the ear, or a sensation that the ear is plugged.
- Partial hearing loss.
- Tinnitus ("ringing of the ear").
- Itching, odor, or discharge from the ear.
Don't use these tricks to remove earwax.
You've probably seen a range of strategies on the web to remove earwax, such as ear candles or ear picks. It is best to steer clear of these instruments to remove cerumen buildup. Cotton swabs (Q-Tips) tend to push earwax deeper into the ear canal rather than successfully removing it. This could cause further problems with hearing and impaction. Additionally, swabbing too close to the eardrum could cause damage.
Similarly, ear candles can damage the sensitive structure of your ears. Aside from burns that may be sustained, ear candles could further obstruct your ear canals or cause perforation in the membrane that separates your ear canal and your middle ear. These tools tend to cause more harm than good when removing cerumen.
Instead, if you've found that cerumen has become troublesome, irritating, or obstructing your hearing, follow a few of the home remedies below and contact us for a cerumen cleaning.
Things to try at home to get rid of earwax
You can use a soft, clean cloth to clean the external parts of your ear.
Inside the ear, cerumen buildup can be treated with liquids that soften the wax. Use a few drops of natural oils in your ear, such as mineral oil or baby oil. Pharmacies may also offer commercial drops to help soften cerumen.
Another option is ear syringing, which uses water or saline solution to clear the ear. Water should be warmed to room temperature to prevent dizziness. If you are ear syringing at home, please do so with caution and follow the instructions.
What we offer at Hearing Spa
It is important to stress again that your ear canals and eardrums could be easily damaged if not cleaned properly. That's why it makes sense to see a professional remove the earwax.
When you come in to see us for a cerumen cleaning, we will first look at your ears with an otoscope. We'll check for cerumen impaction and look for other issues within your ear canals.
We will first soften the buildup with drops to remove the excess cerumen. Then, we may use a curette instrument, which is small and curved, to remove the wax manually. Another option is to use a suction while inspecting your ear. Depending on the situation, we may also use a microscope to ensure safe removal. We may also flush the wax with a rubber-bulb syringe filled with warm water or saline solution.
Contact us today to set up an appointment and remove that 'plugged up' feeling!