Even though it might seem a little gross, it’s healthy and normal for your ears to produce earwax. This yellowish, waxy substance acts as a protecting layer to prevent the risk of infection and foreign particles.
When earwax is at the optimal levels, it helps to keep the ear canal lubricated and clean. The ears have a natural process to remove particles away from the most sensitive parts of the ear. But there are times when earwax becomes excessive, causing a buildup or blockage to occur.
What You Need to Know About Earwax Buildup
Here are a few interesting things that you should know about excessive earwax buildup:
- Earwax is normal and healthy
- Excessive earwax is more common in adults than children
- Some health conditions increase the risk of excessive earwax
- Temporary hearing loss might be corrected with earwax removal
- Professional earwax removal is better than at-home removal
In most situations, too much earwax is a minor inconvenience. Talk to a doctor about your unique symptoms to determine if it is something that you need to address.
What Causes the Earwax Blockages?
What is the underlying cause of an earwax blockage? Often, this condition occurs because of one of these reasons:
- Insufficient cleaning
- Overproduction of earwax
- Narrowed ear canal
- Bony blockage
- Skin disease, such as eczema
- Infectious disease, such as swimmer’s ear
In fact, it’s common for poor at-home habits to cause an earwax blockage. Some people try to remove earwax with cotton swabs but only push the wax deeper into the ear. Other times, earplugs or earphones can cause the wax to build up and prevent the earwax from coming out of the ear canal.
How Do You Know if You have an Earwax Blockage?
You can’t see into the ear to know how much wax is in there. But watch for these signs of excessive earwax buildup, so you know when it’s time to talk to an ENT:
- Earache: If the wax is putting pressure on the eardrum, then your ear might hurt. Additionally, too much wax can contribute to the development of an ear infection.
- Hearing Loss: If the buildup blocks the ear canal, it causes a physical barrier to stop the sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Ear wax blockage is one of the primary causes of temporary hearing loss.
- Dizziness: When excess earwax affects the eardrum, it can cause you to feel dizzy, vertigo, nausea, or off-balance.
- Itching in the Ear: You might notice an itching sensation in the ear canal because of irritation from the excess wax or blockage.
- Feeling Fullness in the Ear: When the wax is affecting the eustachian tube, it can impact how the middle ear is pressurized. As a result, you might have the sensation of your ears feeling plugged or full.
- Ringing in the Ear: Earwax is one cause of tinnitus. Some people find that the ringing sensation goes away after excess earwax is removed.
- Coughing: The throat, sinuses, and ears are all connected, so a variety of things can cause coughing. Excessive ear wax can stimulate nerves in the ear that relate to the throat, causing irritation that results in a dry cough.
Usually, the symptoms start slow and gradually increase over time. You might only notice one or two signs of excessive earwax. Some people don’t recognize the symptoms until a doctor looks in the ears and identifies excessive wax buildup.
Why At-Home Remedies Aren’t Recommended
Because at-home earwax removal can cause problems with blockages and other issues, it’s best to talk to an ENT for professional treatment. An ENT will be highly experienced with earwax removal methods for you.
Don’t try to dig out the earwax, especially when it’s hardened. These attempts can cause damage to the ear and result in problems with the ear canal or eardrum – which could impact your hearing.
Also, avoid other alternative treatments for earwax removal, such as ear candling. This method can cause injuries, such as burns, perforations, or ear obstruction.
Treatment Solutions: Professional Earwax Removal
Your doctor can help to eliminate excess earwax using a few different treatments:
- Curet: This small medical instrument has a curved shape to pull out the wax. It takes precision and experience to perform this treatment without damaging the ear canal or eardrum.
- Suction: A small suction device can help pull the wax out of the ear.
- Flushing: Another option is to soften the wax then flush it out with a syringe or water pick.
Most of the time, earwax removal is completed quickly – you will be done with the treatment in just a few minutes. The length of the appointment depends on the severity and amount of wax that needs to be removed.
These treatments are usually painless, although you might experience minor discomfort during the appointment. If the wax is deep and impacted, then some patients have minor pain during the removal.
Not only do you need immediate treatment for earwax removal, but also talk to your ENT if you have chronic earwax problems. When earwax buildup is a recurring problem, your doctor might recommend preventive treatments such as drops or medication to break up the wax and drain it. Since the drops can damage the ear canal’s delicate skin, only use these treatments as directed.
ENT Services: Earwax Removal
Most of the time, excess earwax doesn’t cause problems. You might notice a little discomfort, but too much earwax doesn’t disrupt your daily lifestyle.
If the earwax starts causing pain or hearing loss, you should talk to a doctor about potential treatment options. Professional treatment can help prevent complications in the future.
For more information about professional earwax removal, talk to our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. Our services can be trusted for patients in and near Collin County and Dallas, with convenient offices located in Frisco and Plano, TX. Schedule an appointment with Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat by using our online form or calling us at (972) 596-4005.