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Cerumen Removal - Ear Cleaning

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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.

Symptoms of a cerumen blockage may include:

  • Earache
  • Tinnitus (noise in the ear)
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear pressure

If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This may be addressed at home, at your Audiologist's, or Doctor's office, depending on the severity of the blockage.

How Not to Remove Earwax Buildup

People commonly use cotton swabs to try to 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 potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing 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.

At-Home Earwax Removal

Earwax removal kits can also be purchased over the counter in most drug stores.These kits generally consist of a liquid that softens earwax and a small rubber bulb syringe. You will be given directions on how much and how often to apply the liquid to your ear canals, allowing it to sit for awhile in your ears to soften up the ear wax. Bubbling and fizzing sensations in your ears is normal with use. You will then use the bulb syringe to gently flush your ears with warm water to remove the ear wax. It may take several days to completely clear earwax blockages from your ear. These kits should not be used by some people, therefore heed the warnings on the box for conditions where it is not safe. Ear candling is not recommended as well.

Removal at Your Doctor or Audiologist's Office

If the earwax blockage is more significant, it may need to be removed in your Physician or Audiologist's office. The techniques used are: irrigation, curettage, suction, or a combination of these.

If you experience pain, discomfort or the sensation of a blocked or full ear,  It's important that you see your Audiologist or Physician as soon as possible to address the issue. Ear wax removal should not be a painful process and should bring you relief when plugging is due to ear wax.