Stop with the Q-Tips! An Earwax Patient Guide

There’s no two ways around it: everyone has earwax. No matter what you may think about the yellow goo that comes out of your ears, the fact that it is an almost universal constant of human health means that dealing with it is a matter of public concern. But before we address the proper solutions to the problems that earwax can cause, we would like to ask a very simple question:

What is earwax?

Earwax—or “cerumen,” as it is known in the medical world—is a substance that most every human ear on Earth produces in one form or another. Typically, the wax that your ear produces is a natural and functional substance, and should be no cause for alarm. In fact, earwax helps promote the health of your inner ear in a number of important ways.

Like mucus produced by your nasal cavity, earwax is a substance that performs many important cleaning and protective functions. Like mucus, earwax traps irritants and germs, keeping them from penetrating any further into the sensitive structures of your inner ear. Unlike mucus, however, earwax helps protect the inside of your ears from moisture, keeping the thin, sensitive skin from becoming irritated.

If everything is functioning as it should, then earwax should not be an issue except in medically sensitive cases. Cerumen will move through your ear-canal, pushed along by the tiny hairs in your ear, carrying with it irritants and foreign bodies. However, a number of circumstances can coincide to create a stoppage of earwax, either through an over-production, or a blockage created artificially.

Knowing how to spot this sort of issue can be very helpful, because although an earwax blockage may not be a serious medical issue on its own, it can be either a sign or a cause of further health concerns. Symptoms of an earwax blockage can include partial or full hearing loss in the affected ear, artificial sounds—very similar to tinnitus—a feeling of plugging or stopping, or an earache.

These blockages can certainly be caused by an overproduction of earwax. However, one of the most common causes of earwax blockage is the over-zealous use of cotton-swabs to clean out the ear canal. Although it is important to clean the outside of the ear canal, foreign bodies should never be inserted into the ear canal unless put there by a health professional.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of an earwax blockage, there are a number of at-home remedies and in-clinic fixes that can be provided. Call our clinic to schedule an appointment, and we’ll fix the problem quickly and efficiently.