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, especially if you wear earmolds or hearing aids.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Decreased hearing
- Feeling of ear fullness
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done by your hearing care professional, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.
Earwax Removal Methods To Avoid
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 compact wax further or puncture your eardrum.
Physicians generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.
Removal By Dr. Jackie Napoli at Concierge Hearing Care
Dr. Napoli utilizes three methods of cerumen removal depending on the type of cerumen present. These three methods are curettage, suction, and irrigation through the use of the Earigator system.
Curettage is the most common method your hearing specialist will use to remove blockages, which includes the use of a curette. A curette is a long, curved tool that is used to manually remove wax from the ear canal.
Suction is used with a device designed for ear wax removal. While it may be loud, it will not cause any damage to the ear or hearing sensitivity.
The final method of ear wax removal is irrigation, which involves the use of water to flush ear wax from the ear. Dr. Napoli uses the Earigator system when irrigation is necessary. The Earigator keeps the water used at body temperature essentially eliminating the dizziness that can sometimes be experienced with traditional irrigation. There is also a pressure control available to ensure safety at all times.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you see your hearing health professional as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax doesn't have to be painful and should bring you relief.