What is ear wax?
Ear wax (the medical name is cerumen) is a substance in the ear canal secreted by the ceruminous glands. Believe it or not, it is actually an important part of your body’s health defenses. It traps dirt that might otherwise accumulate in the ear canal and slows the growth of bacteria. This is why it is important not to over clean your ear canals.
Why is ear wax removal important?
Typically, Mother Nature is responsible for ear wax removal as it gradually migrates out of your ear and washes away when you shower or bathe. However, some people have a problem with wax blockage. This can happen when you have small ear canals and the ear wax gets trapped and builds up, or if you tend to have an overproduction of cerumen. In addition, when you wear hearing aids, sometimes the ear wax will build up because the action of putting the hearing aids in your ears tends to work against your body’s natural mechanism for removing it. (By the way, this is exactly why we don’t recommend using cotton swabs for ear cleaning. You might get a small amount out, but you generally push it further into your ear canal causing impaction.)
If you tend to have ear wax (cerumen) blockage, we can help. In addition to hearing aid services, Pacific Hearing Service offers ear cleaning. As audiologists, we are licensed to remove ear wax and have the tools necessary to do it. We use a microscope to clearly visualize your ear canal so we can remove it safely and thoroughly. (Please note that if you have a compromised immune system, it is in your best interest to have a physician who specializes in diseases of the ear, nose and throat to remove the cerumen.) If you believe this is the cause of your hearing problem is, call us to make an appointment for an ear wax removal service.
Think about the answers to these questions when you’re preparing for your appointment with us:
- How long have you been experiencing symptoms, such as earache or difficulty hearing?
- Have you had any drainage from your ears?
- Have you experienced earache, difficulty hearing or drainage in the past?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
On a similar note, the most common cause of hearing aid malfunction is wax accumulating in the hearing aid. We can help with that, too. In addition to scheduled ear wax removal appointments, we have a drop-in hearing aid cleaning service. You will be amazed how much better hearing aids sound after a good cleaning.
Can you remove ear wax at home?
Depending on the patient’s health we may set up home treatment plans. This is only recommended if there is no risk for infection or bleeding. Your audiologist should be aware of any medications or changes in medications prior to or during treatment. We do not recommend candling. It does not work. Placing a flame next to your head is not advisable.
How do you know if you have ear wax build up?
Ear wax build up symptoms can manifest in many forms. Common symptoms include itchy ears, feeling of fullness, tinnitus, dizziness and hearing loss. These symptoms have many overlapping health issues. It’s always best to have an audiologist check ear canals to determine if the wax build up is abnormal.
How do you remove ear wax?
There are three main ways to remove ear wax; through instruments, suction, and irrigation. We use all methods so we can remove the wax depending on the patient’s needs.
Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?
Full strength hydrogen peroxide can dry out the skin and cause further irritation to your ear canal. If the hydrogen peroxide is diluted four parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide it can be used. However, we never recommend continual use. It is also not safe to use hyrdrogen peroxide in your ear if you have a hole (perforation) in your ear drum.
Is ear wax removal painful?
Depending on how long the ear wax has been impacted there may be some discomfort. As audiologists we see many patients with wax build up. We know when it’s appropriate to soften the wax before removal to prevent discomfort.
Can you use cotton swabs to clean your ears?
We do not recommend the use of cotton swabs. Cotton swabs generally make the impaction worse by pushing the wax down further in the ear canal. The skin in the ear canal is thin. A cotton swab can easily damage the ear canal.