What is ear wax and why do we have it?

Why Do We Have Ear Wax?

The ear wax that is naturally produced by your body helps to clean, protect, and lubricate your ears. But ear wax sometimes builds up excessively, and if it does, you may want to turn to methods of ear wax removal.

Ear wax, also called cerumen, is a sticky, shiny substance produced by the wax glands located in the outer part of your ear canal (the canal that separates the fleshy outer ear from the inner ear). Ear wax is 20 to 50 percent fat, and it coats the ear canal to moisturize it, fight off infection, and help keep dust, dirt, and other debris from getting deep inside your ear. Most people make enough ear wax, but if you have too little ear wax, your ears can become dry, itchy, and prone to infection.

Once ear wax has served its purpose, it eventually migrates from your ear canal to the opening of your ear, where it normally dries up and falls out of your ear. Although the reason is unknown, some people produce more ear wax than others. In some cases, excessive ear wax can accumulate in the ear canal and cause symptoms including:

  • Ear pain
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • A plugged sensation in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitis (ringing in the ears)
  • Ear infection
  • Itching
  • Ear odor
  • Discharge coming out of the ear
  • Coughing

The Safest Ways to Remove Excess Ear Wax

Many people practice ear wax removal as part of their personal hygiene routine. Some people probe their ear canals with cotton swabs, hair pins, or other objects in an attempt to clean excess ear wax. But if done incorrectly, at-home ear cleaning can actually push wax deeper into your ear canal, block your ear drum, cause irritation of the ear canal, or cause your eardrum to rupture.

To safely clean your ears at home, use a cloth to wipe and wash the fleshy external part of your ear, but avoid putting anything into your ear canal. In some cases, putting a few drops of mineral or baby oil, glycerin, hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, or over-the-counter ear cleaning drops into your ear can help to soften and remove excessive ear wax. It’s best to avoid using cotton swabs or other probing objects for at-home ear cleaning.

If you feel you have excessive amounts of ear wax and it’s affecting your hearing, talk with your doctor. She can examine your ear canal with a lighted instrument called an otoscope and remove problematic ear wax using ear drops, water irrigation, a suctioning device, or other instruments. Some people need to see their doctor every 6 to 12 months for an ear examination and ear cleaning to remove ear wax build-up.

What About Ear Candling?

Ear candling is an ear cleaning practice that involves inserting long, hollow, lighted candles into your ear to remove excessive ear wax. But ear candling is not safe, because it can lead to injury, burns, or obstruction of your ear canal. In fact, because the safety issues associated with them are so serious, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put regulations into place for the manufacturing and marketing of ear candles.

Find more information in the Everyday Health Ear, Nose, and Throat Center.

Why Do We Have Earwax?

© Ninell/.com

Sticky, gooey, oftentimes orange, and homemade within the ears—earwax is considered a gross nuisance that people tend to frequently remove and clean from the body. Whether it’s by cotton swab, an ill-advised and dangerous method, or by an otolaryngologist, people go to great lengths for unobstructed ear canals—but is removing earwax a good idea? Why does our body produce earwax in the first place if we just remove it in the end?

Earwax, also known by the formal name cerumen, is made from a mixture of long-chain fatty acids, alcohols, cholesterol, and the chemical compound squalene. It’s secreted by glands in the outer ear canal in order to block dust, bacteria, insects, and other outside agents from infiltrating the ear canal and damaging the skin in the outer ear and the sensitive inner ear. While it’s incredibly beneficial to the health of the ear, overproduction can cause earwax impaction, blocking sound waves from reaching the eardrum. Use of cotton swabs to clean excessive earwax can lead to further problems, pushing the wax farther into the inner ear canal rather than drawing it out. This has the potential to cause permanent damage to the eardrum and hearing abilities.

A commonly shared rule for cleaning excess ear wax is to never place an object smaller than your elbow into your ear. Given that most elbows are significantly larger than the average ear canal opening, it’s best then not to place anything in the ears to draw out wax. No reason to worry though—the ears are actually proactive self-cleaners. Movement of the jaw and regular production of new earwax tend to push the excess substance outside the ear. If symptoms of earwax impaction do develop, a trip to the otolaryngologist for a safe cleaning is advised.

What you need to know about earwax

Of all the substances our bodies excrete, earwax has to be one of the most mysterious. What possible reason could our ears have for producing this waxy substance? Medical professionals may not yet completely understand all of its properties, but they are certain of its protective nature. To understand more, we’ve assembled some interesting facts about earwax — and why you shouldn’t be so hasty to remove it.

Earwax: gross but healthy

While this is a common earwax removal
method, we do not recommend it.

The medical term for earwax is cerumen, a naturally occurring substance in the outer ear. Ingredients for a good batch of earwax include oil and sweat mixed with dirt and dead skin cells. It’s hard to believe something so unappealing can be so important to your ears’ good health, yet being sticky and smelly is exactly why a normal amount of ear wax is beneficial. Consider these attributes:

  • Earwax is a natural barrier which prevents dirt and bacteria from entering the innermost parts of your ears. Because it is sticky, it collects microscopic debris which finds its way into your ear canal, much like fly paper traps insects. Without this defensive barrier, your inner ear would be at risk.
  • It acts as a moisturizer and protective coating for your ear canal. Without earwax, your outer ear might be itchy and flaky, which puts it at greater risk for becoming irritated and infected.
  • It acts as an insect repellant. The smell of earwax keeps bugs away, while the stickiness traps those which accidentally venture inside.

Your earwax says a lot about you

Although most everyone’s ears produce earwax, that’s where the similarity ends. Its composition varies from person to person, depending on their ethnicity, environment, age and diet.

There are two primary types of earwax — wet and dry.

  • Wet cerumen typically appears in Caucasians and Africans
  • Dry cerumen is more common among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians

Even the color of your cerumen can say a lot about you.

  • Dark brown or black colored earwax is typically older, so its color comes from the dirt and bacteria it has trapped. Adults tend to have darker, harder earwax.
  • Dark brown earwax which is tinged with red may signal a bleeding injury.
  • Light brown, orange or yellow earwax is healthy and normal. Children tend to have softer, lighter-colored earwax.
  • White, flaky earwax indicates you lack a body-odor producing chemical. Dark-colored, sticky earwax indicates you should probably use deodorant.

Too much of a good thing

Usually, the body knows exactly how much earwax to produce. As long as you maintain a healthy diet, have good hygiene and move your jaw (think chewing and talking), your ears will naturally expel excess earwax, dirt and debris without any intervention. In fact, when you make a habit of removing earwax, that sends a signal to your body to make more, creating an excess which can interfere with hearing, put you at greater risk for developing ear infections and other complications.

Stress and fear can also accelerate earwax production. That’s because the same apocrine glands which produce sweat also produce cerumen. Others who have a tendency to produce too much earwax include those:

  • with a lot of hair in their ear canals.
  • who suffer from chronic ear infections.
  • who have abnormally-formed ear canals or osteomata.
  • who are elderly, have certain skin conditions or certain learning disabilities.

How to safely clean your ears

Even though earwax has its benefits, blockages caused by it can cause a conductive hearing loss. If you develop a sensation of stuffiness in your ears and suspect earwax is the culprit:

  • do not use a cotton swab, hairpin or any sharp instrument to attempt to remove wax yourself. Doing this can push the wax deeper into the ear canal where it is unable to be sloughed off naturally, or you could even puncture your eardrum.
  • do not try ear candling. Besides having no proven benefits, ear candling can cause burns, wax blockage, punctured eardrums and serious injury.

While your ears are self-cleaning, there are a few things you can do to keep them clean and free of excess debris:

  • Wash your ears using a warm, soapy wash cloth. Letting warm water from your daily shower run into your ears every so often is probably enough to soften and loosen excess earwax.
  • If your ears are healthy and you don’t have any tubes or eardrum perforations, you can try to clear excess earwax yourself using an over-the-counter ear cleaning kit. Ask your local pharmacist for a recommendation.
  • Have your hearing evaluated annually by a hearing healthcare professional. Ask your family physician for a referral, or search our online directory to find hearing clinics near you. Besides advising you on your hearing health, they will be able to detect excess cerumen and may safely remove it.
  • See a doctor immediately if your home treatments don’t help or if you experience sudden hearing loss, pain or bleeding.

What’s Earwax?

  • Larger text sizeLarge text sizeRegular text size

It’s sticky. It’s shiny. But what is earwax, anyway — and where does it come from?

Earwax is made in the outer ear canal. This is the area between the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of your head (the part you can see) and the middle ear. The skin in the outer ear canal has special glands that produce earwax. The fancy name for this waxy stuff is cerumen (say: suh-ROO-mun).

After the wax is produced, it slowly makes its way through the outer ear canal to the opening of the ear. Then it either falls out or is removed when you wash. In most people, the outer ear canal makes earwax all the time, so the canal always has enough wax in it.

So why do we need wax? Earwax has several important jobs. First, it protects and moisturizes the skin of ear canal, preventing dry, itchy ears. Second, it contains special chemicals that fight off infections that could hurt the skin inside the ear canal. Finally, it acts as a shield between the outside world and the eardrum. When dust, dirt, and other things enter your ear, the earwax traps them so they can’t travel any further.

If you want to get rid of earwax, here’s what you need to do: nothing! Most kids don’t need to do anything special to remove earwax. If you wash your hair regularly, this is enough to keep your ears clean.

You can wipe the outside of your ear with a washcloth but don’t use a cotton swab, your finger, or anything else to poke around inside your ear to remove earwax. Your ear canal and eardrum are very delicate, and you may hurt them or cause bleeding by trying to get rid of wax this way. Poking around in your ear can also push and pack the wax in further.

In some kids, one or both ear canals make extra earwax. If this sounds like you, tell an adult. Doctors often can prescribe special medicines that are placed in the ear to get rid of extra wax.

Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts

Earwax: How much is too much?

It’s a scenario that likely has been played out countless times in your hearing practice: A patient comes in to have a hearing aid fitting only to be sent to a physician due to excess wax buildup.

In this situation, it is helpful to remind patients that earwax is there for a purpose. The dark recess of the ear canal serves to protect the delicate components of the middle ear, but can also be an inviting refuge for parasites hoping to catch a ride with us. Earwax presents a protective barrier against insects, bacteria and fungi. It is a mixture of wax and oil naturally secreted by glands in the ear canal. Typically it migrates out of the ear along with outer layers of skin that naturally slough off as the tissue replaces itself. Depending on our genetic makeup, people have different consistencies of earwax, and it may not migrate out, creating a buildup.

When a physician looks in the ear, he or she is concerned with health of the ear canal, and an open path for sound to the eardrum. In their view, wax in the canal is considered healthy, and is to be removed only to the extent of providing a clear path for the sound. When a hearing professional looks in the ear canal in preparation for taking an impression, the goal is a very clear canal so that the impression accurately represents the shape of the ear. An accurate ear impression will yield an accurate fabrication of an earmold or custom hearing aid. Depending upon local licensing regulations, hearing professionals may be required to refer patients to a physician if wax buildup is such that an ear impression will be unsafe or inaccurate. Very clear communication between the hearing professional and the physician is required so that the cleaning of the ear canal is sufficient for an impression.

The hearing professional has the responsibility of making the final determination of whether or not the ear canal is clear enough for a safe and accurate ear impression. The safety of the patient and the comfort and security of the ultimate fit of the hearing aid are the driving forces behind the decision to proceed with an impression or not. It is understandable that it can be very frustrating for patients who are referred out for earwax removal if the procedure does not yield a satisfactory outcome. Earwax removal can be difficult because of the sensitivity of the ear canal, and the potential for discomfort or injury. Successful removal may take more than a single visit to the physician. It is not uncommon for a recommendation to use a softening agent (cerumenolytic) to break down the earwax prior to complete removal.

Clearly explaining the purpose of ear wax and the importance that an accurate impression will ultimately play in the hearing aid wearing experience can often prevent any patient dissatisfaction when this situation occurs.

Here’s Why You Really Shouldn’t Clean The Wax From Your Ears

Earwax can feel a lot like the stuff inside pimples: It’s gross, and cleaning it out feels satisfying. Even watching other people’s earwax get cleaned out feels satisfying.

So you might be surprised to learn that earwax serves an important purpose – and doctors say that most of us should not be trying to remove it at all.

This is the official decree of the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), which released official earwax guidelines earlier this year.

The guidelines make it clear : “Earwax that does not cause symptoms or block the ear canal should be left alone.”

No ear candling. No syringes full of water. And especially no Q-tips.

As earwax removal extraordinaire Dr. Mark Vaughan told INSIDER in August, Q-tips are too big and too blunt to actually scoop out wax from your ears. “All you can do is push in,” he said.

Besides, as the guidelines explain, earwax is there for a reason. It helps to trap dirt and dust, preventing them from traveling further into the ear.

It also cleans itself: Chewing, jaw motion, and the growth of new skin continuously push old wax out of the ear canal. Then it just flakes off or falls away in the shower.

It’s a natural process that helps keep your ears healthy, and there’s no good reason to mess with it.

Of course, there are exceptions.

The AAO says that in about 10 percent of kids, 5 percent of adults, and a third of older people, this self-cleaning process can fail, leading to an overgrowth of earwax. In some cases, wax can block the ear canal entirely.

The guidelines say that if you have symptoms of earwax blockage, including ear pain, itching, ringing or a feeling of ear fullness, hearing loss, ear discharge or odour, or coughing, you should ask a doctor to take a look.

Medical professionals can remove earwax safely and effectively, when it’s necessary.

But most of us should retire that box of cotton swabs for good.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling

Can you think of something you do that’s nearly irresistible, widely popular, but a bad idea that’s based on a health myth? That’s right, I’m talking about inserting cotton-tipped swabs into your ears.

According to recently released guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, experts strongly discourage twirling cotton-tipped swabs in the ears. Here’s why.

1. It’s unnecessary

The ear is self-cleaning. No routine maintenance is required. If you’re inserting swabs into your ears to remove earwax or prevent its buildup, think again. Earwax is produced within the ear canal and naturally migrates from deeper inside to outside. There are exceptions, of course. Some people make more than the average amount of earwax, and for others (especially older adults) it becomes harder and drier than usual. Even in these situations, inserting a swab inside the ear is not the answer. More on this in a moment.

2. It may be harmful

Inserting a cotton tipped swab (or anything else) into the ear can damage the ear canal or eardrum, or push earwax farther into the canal, making it harder to remove. This may cause a feeling of pressure in the ear and diminished hearing. Even worse, clumps of earwax pushed down near the eardrum can lead to painful ear infections.

3. Earwax is not a sign of poor hygiene

Here’s where there seems to be some misunderstanding. Earwax — the medical term is “cerumen” — is there for good reasons. Among other things, cerumen:

  • is a natural moisturizer, preventing the skin inside the ear from becoming too dry
  • traps dirt and dust before they can reach deep into the canal
  • absorbs dead skin cells and debris
  • prevents bacteria and other infectious organisms from reaching the inner ear.

Some people make more earwax, while others make less. The makeup of earwax varies depending on ethnicity, age, environment, and even diet. While there seems to be a certain “ick” factor associated with earwax, it’s not a reflection of uncleanliness; in fact, it’s a sign of normal, healthy ears.

What to do about “cerumenosis”

Buildup of earwax can cause symptoms. When it does, doctors call it “cerumenosis” and recommend over-the-counter ear drops that can soften earwax and allow it to exit the ear more easily (with gentle irrigation, such as during a shower). Or, a healthcare provider can look inside your ear and use instruments specifically designed to remove earwax.

In conclusion…

There’s a reason the makers of cotton-tipped swabs put this warning on their packaging: “Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury.” But, it still goes on. Perhaps it’s just too tempting or satisfying. Perhaps no one reads the labels of the products they use. Or maybe the myths about earwax are too ingrained to be easily dispelled by facts. Whatever the reasons, now you know to stop putting cotton-tipped swabs into your ears. And that also goes for unfolded paper clips, pen caps, or whatever else you’ve been using!

But if you’re among those whose ear wax factories are working overtime, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh shares do’s and don’ts for removing wax from your ear.

The deal with ear wax, aka cerumen

If your ears seem waxier than most, take heart: Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is not only normal, it’s necessary.

“People think that ear wax is dirty and needs to be cleaned, but ear wax has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties,” notes Dr. Nguyen-Huynh.

“It also protects ears from things that could hurt the eardrum, such as dust, hair or small insects.” (How’s that for a visual?)

But like most things in life, it’s all about balance — too much wax can block your ears and cause temporary hearing loss or infections. “A small number of people will need cleaning if they produce too much wax that jams up the ear, especially if they have a smaller-than-average ear canal,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains.

Other factors that can affect your amount of ear wax include:

  • Previous ear surgery or trauma.
  • Recurrent ear infections.
  • Wearing hearing aids or deep earplugs.

Two ear wax removal methods to try

If ear wax is becoming a nuisance, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends two easy ear cleaning methods:

1. Over-the-counter ear cleaning drops

If you have a small amount of wax, over-the-counter ear cleaners work well. Look for drops that contain hydrogen or other kinds of peroxide. The peroxide does a good job of breaking up ear wax.

Here’s how to use them:

  1. Lay sideways: Make sure the ear you’re cleaning faces up and add the drops as directed.
  2. Let it sit: Allow the cleaning solution to sit in your ear for around five minutes. This lets the liquid soak in and soften things up.
  3. Grab a tissue: When you sit up, the liquid should come out, along with the ear wax that broke loose. Have a tissue ready to catch it all.

If that method doesn’t work, the ears might need flushing with a bulb syringe. But there are a few caveats:

  • Be gentle: Flush your ear gently to avoid harming your eardrum.
  • Watch the temperature: The water should not be too cold or too warm. If it is, the temperature difference could make you dizzy.
  • Avoid if necessary: Don’t use the flushing method if you have a hole in your eardrum or if you’ve ever had eardrum surgery. Flushing may damage your eardrum repair.

If you are not comfortable flushing your own ears, said Dr. Nguyen-Huynh, you might want to check with your primary care provider’s office to see if there is a nurse who would do it for you.

Ear cleaning drops may not work if you have too much ear wax or a condition called impacted cerumen (when there’s a firm wax plug blocking your ear canal).

“When it’s a plug, putting peroxide in your ear may make things worse because you’re softening the plug but not dissolving or removing it,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says. “Then the softened plug becomes like a wall of mud that can plug your ear even more.”

2. Mineral or olive oil

Anecdotally, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says people who put olive oil in their ear before getting a cleaning seem to get wax out more easily. “It lubricates the ear canal,” he explains. “But I’m not sure it’s any better than what we usually recommend, which is mineral oil.”

Two ear wax removal remedies to avoid

All ear wax removal hacks are not created equal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends steering clear of:

  1. Cotton swabs: A manufacturer’s warning on the package says it all: Do not insert swab into ear canal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains: “A cotton swab acts like a ramrod in an old-style cannon. The tip pushes the ear wax in deeper, so the more you use it, the more ear wax you push in. Plus, you may rupture your eardrum if you push too far. Or if you scratch your ear canal, it can get infected because now dirt and bacteria can penetrate under your skin.”
  2. Ear wax removal candles: Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says you should doubly stay away from this method: These candles don’t work, AND they may burn you.

When to see a doctor about a clogged ear

While ear wax is generally more annoying than dangerous, sometimes you need a doctor to clear it. If home remedies don’t work, your ear hurts or you have trouble hearing, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says it’s smart to seek medical evaluation.

“Someone needs to look in and see if the ear canal is open or if the wax is plugging it up,” he says.

If the situation is minor, you may be able to get your ears unblocked right then and there. If not, ENT doctors can use operating microscopes to magnify inside the ear canal, loosen the wax and vacuum it out.

And a clogged ear may have other causes. “It could be a middle ear infection with fluid filling up the space behind the eardrum,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh cautions. “Or you could have a viral infection that affects the inner ear. In those cases, a doctor can diagnose and treat you to prevent permanent hearing loss.”

Ear wax

Most cases of ear wax blockage can be treated at home. The following remedies can be used to soften wax in the ear:

  • Baby oil
  • Commercial drops
  • Glycerin
  • Mineral oil
  • Water

Another method is to wash out the wax.

  • Use body-temperature water (cooler or warmer water may cause brief but severe dizziness or vertigo).
  • Hold your head upright and straighten the ear canal by holding the outside ear and gently pulling upward.
  • Use a syringe (you can buy one at the store) to gently direct a small stream of water against the ear canal wall next to the wax plug.
  • Tip your head to allow the water to drain. You may need to repeat irrigation several times.

To avoid damaging your ear or causing an infection:

  • Never irrigate or use drops to soften the wax in the ear if the eardrum may have a hole in it or you have had recent ear surgery.
  • Do not irrigate the ear with a jet irrigator designed for cleaning teeth (such as a WaterPik).

After the wax is removed, dry the ear thoroughly. You may use a few drops of alcohol in the ear or a hair dryer set on low to help dry the ear.

You may clean the outer ear canal by using a cloth or paper tissue wrapped around your finger. Mineral oil can be used to moisturize the ear and prevent the wax from drying.

Do not clean your ears too often or too hard. Ear wax also helps protect your ears. Never try to clean the ear by putting any object, such as a cotton swab, into the ear canal.

If you cannot remove the wax plug or you have discomfort, consult a health care provider, who may remove the wax by:

  • Repeating the irrigation attempts
  • Suctioning the ear canal
  • Using a small device called a curette
  • Using a microscope to help

The health benefits and dangers of earwax, from the Harvard Health Letter

Published: November, 2008

Earwax, a bodily emanation that many of us would rather do without, is actually pretty useful stuff — in small amounts. It serves as a natural cleanser as it moves out of the ear, and tests have shown it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. But for many people, earwax is too much of a good thing. An ear canal plugged up with earwax can cause earaches, infections, and other problems. New guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology stress a let-it-be attitude and warn against removal unless the earwax is causing a problem, reports the November 2008 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

You can get medical help to remove an earwax blockage. Or you can take a do-it-yourself approach. Don’t try to remove the wax with a cotton swab, which tends to push the earwax back into the ear. Instead, soak a cotton ball and drip a few drops of plain water, a simple saline solution, or hydrogen peroxide into the ear with your head tilted so the opening of the ear is pointing up. Keep it in that position for a minute to allow gravity to pull the fluid down through the wax. Then tilt the head the other way and let the fluid and wax drain out. You can also use a bulb syringe to swish out the ear.

To continue reading this article, you must login.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online “

Earwax and your hearing

Earwax is that sticky yellow-orange substance which you might recoil from when you see it. Its proper name is cerumen. What functions does earwax play and how can you prevent earwax-induced hearing loss?

Earwax is made in the outer part of the ear canal. It’s a combination of skin cells and oil secreted from glands in the ear canal. Earwax has an important job to do – it cleans, protects and keeps the ear canal moist. Earwax catches the dirt and dust which enters your ears, stopping it in its tracks before it can travel further into the ear. Most of the time, earwax slowly moves towards the outside of the ear, along with your jaw movement, and either hardens and falls out or you remove it when you wash.

You may have heard the advice ‘don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear’. It’s correct! Poking objects into your ear can both push earwax deep into your ear canal and damage your eardrum or other delicate parts of your ear. Even cotton tips, which are commonly used for ear cleaning, are not recommended. At most, earwax can be wiped gently from the outer part of the ear with a washcloth. In fact, washing your hair regularly is often enough to keep your ears clean.

So, what happens when things don’t go to plan?

Earwax is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. It can cause what’s known as conductive hearing loss. This is when the middle or outer ear is obstructed by a blockage or foreign body, leading to sound not able to effectively transmit to the inner ear. In the case of a blockage caused by earwax, it is usually because the earwax has been pushed too far into the ear canal or the ear itself is producing too much earwax and it is travelling back towards the eardrum.

Signs of an earwax blockage might include sudden hearing loss, tinnitus, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and even ear pain. If left too long without treatment, the blockage can create an infection. The good news is that in most cases of earwax blockage, the hearing loss is temporary. Once treated by a professional, your hearing should return to normal. On that note, we never recommend trying to remove a blockage yourself, for example, by using ear candles. These can be dangerous and aren’t medically proven to be effective.

Earwax can also interfere with hearing aids, by plugging up the receiver, microphone or speaker. This can prevent sound from getting out or in. A good daily cleaning regime can help keep wax buildup at bay.

If you’re struggling with out-of-control earwax, or you think you might have a wax buildup, seek help from an expert. Your GP or local hearing health professional can assess the cause of the problem, and recommend a product to help. They can also remove the buildup if necessary.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *