Ear Wax Buildup

Ear wax buildup or blockage is a frequent cause of hearing loss. 

The ear canal is lined with hair follicles and glands that produce a waxy, oily substance called “cerumen”. It naturally migrates to the opening of the ear canal and is wiped away with routine hygiene.

Glands in the ear can produce more wax than can be easily removed. Hearing loss may occur when excess wax hardens and obstructs the ear canal. In most cases, this type of hearing loss is temporary and improves with removal of the obstruction.

Functions of Ear Wax

Ear wax is vital to the ear. It protects the delicate skin of the ear canal from irritation and infection. Ear wax protects the ear canal by preventing dust or debris from entering. It also protects the ear from being damaged by bacteria and other germs. 

Symptoms of Wax Blockage

If wax buildup occurs and is not addressed, symptoms may include: 

  • Earaches 

  • A plugged or “fullness” sensation in the ear 

  • Ringing noises in the ear ([tinnitus])

  • Worsening of existing hearing loss.

Treatment

The first step of treating ear wax blockage is to see a qualified ear healthcare provider called an Otolaryngologist. Ear wax removal is treated by various methods, including:

  • Your ENT physician using a microscope and ear instruments

  • Irrigation with warm water

  • Suctioning

It is not recommended for you to try to remove ear wax from your own ears as this may cause serious damage, infections or permanent hearing loss.

Prevention of Wax Blockage

The following solutions/remedies can be used at home to soften wax in the ear:

  • Baby oil

  • Commercial ear drop solutions

  • Glycerin drops

  • Mineral oil

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates are extensively trained to treat patients with ear wax buildup. If you’re experiencing any of the problems that may result from ear wax blockage, see one of our Otolaryngologists for an evaluation. 

 

 

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