Inside the ear canal, waxy oil called cerumen is produced. This oil is also known as earwax. It is beneficial in the nature that it protects from dust, microorganisms and foreign particles. Also, it protects the skin of our ear canal from irritation that may be related to weather. Usually, excess earwax makes its own way out of the canal and into the opening of the ear naturally where it is washed away. However, when our glands produce excessive earwax, it has the potential to become hardened and block the ear.A blockage from excessive ear wax affects about 6% of individuals and is one of the most common problems seen by ear doctors.
What Causes Excessive Ear Wax?
Ear canals are thought to be self-cleaning, meaning earwax and skin cells pass on their own from inside of the ear canal to the outer opening. The older earwax migrates from deeper areas of the ear canal to the opening where it usually dries up and falls out of the ear canal on its own.
The use of cotton swabs, bobby pins or other similar objects in the ear canal causes the wax to be pushed deeper, thus creating a blockage. Individuals who utilize earphones, earplugs or hearing aids on a frequent basis are more likely to produce excess earwax. There are other reasons that may cause excessive ear wax,like narrowing of the ear canal as a result of infections or diseases of the skin, bones or connective tissue; the production of a less fluid form of cerumen; and an overproduction of cerumen related to trauma or blockage within the ear canal.
Unfortunately, some individuals are just prone to producing excessive ear wax. The buildup of wax is a common cause fortemporary hearing loss.
Symptoms of Excess Ear Wax
If you have the following symptoms, you may have excess earwax:
- Difficulty hearing
- Complaints of dizziness
- Pain in the ear
- Sensation of the ear feeling plugged or full
- Ringing in the ear
- An ear canal that is itchy or has drainage
- Complaints of coughing
How to Remove Excessive Earwax
If your eardrum has no holes or tubes in it, then you can use the following home remedy to get the excessive ear wax out safely.
- First, soften your ear wax with a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin or hydrogen peroxide to the ear canal. Some OTC medications can also be used, such as debrox and murine ear drops.
- Second, after 1 or 2 days, drop some warm water into the ear canal, tilt the head, letting the affected ear face against the ground and then straighten your head.
- At last, let the ear face the ground and let the water out. Use a hand-held dryer or towel to gently dry your outer ear.
Note: Prior to using over the counter ear wax softeners, individuals with perforated eardrums shouldn't use ear wax softeners to avoid getting middle ear infections. If an individual is not certain about the condition of their ear drum, a healthcare provider should be consulted. Also, if pain, tenderness or a localized skin rash develops while using the ear drop,stop and change treatment immediately.
Removal by a Physician
With excessive earwax that blocks the ear canal and hearing is affected, a healthcare provider may need to wash the earwax out, which is called a lavage. The earwax is then removed by suctioning or with a special instrument. Physicians may also prescribe prescription ear drops that are specifically designed to soften the earwax.
Precautions When Removing Excessive Ear Wax
You should be care when removing excessive ear wax by yourself. The following 2 methods should be avoided:
Do Not Use Q-Tips to Remove Ear Wax
Usually, attempts made to clean the ears by using cotton swabs result in pushing the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Objects such as Q-tips, bobby pins and other related objects only serve the purpose of pushing the wax deeper into the ear, potentially causing problems.
With these efforts, physicians tend to see more perforated eardrums as a result as the skin of the ear canal and the eardrum are fragile and very thin. It is easy to cause an injury and make oneself more prone to an infection when attempting to remove the protective coating (earwax).
"Ear Candles" for Ridding Excessive Ear Wax Are Dangerous.
There are many warnings about the use of “ear candles” as a treatment for buildup. The FDA warns consumers about the safety of this product, potential hazards include:
- Burns to the face or ear area
- Potential for bleeding
- Potential for a punctured eardrum
- Possible injury from dripping wax
- The risk of a fire
Utilizing the over the counter methods if you know your ear drum is not perforated is an effective way to cope with the excess buildup. However, if you are ever in doubt, it is best that guidance and treatment from a physician is sought to prevent worsening of the problem and potential injuries.
If you want to know more about earwax and how to get rid of excessive ear wax, check out this video: