When cerumen (earwax) accumulates or becomes too difficult to remove spontaneously, a person may experience an earwax blockage.
Earwax is an integral element of your body’s defensive system and serves a valuable purpose. The product traps dirt and dampens the growth of bacteria in the ear canal as it cleans, coats, and protects.
If a buildup of earwax becomes a problem, your doctor can take a few easy, painless procedures to remedy the situation.
Earwax: What Exactly Is It?
The body produces earwax, also known as cerumen, to keep the ears safe. Ear wax has a dual purpose as a lubricant and an antimicrobial. The skin in your ear grows from the inside out, but the old earwax is usually pushed through the ear canal by jaw actions like chewing—ear wax flakes off when it reaches the outer ear.
The outer ear canal is where earwax is produced, not the inner ear. Dead skin cells and hair are mixed with glandular secretions to form earwax.
Glands on the skin of the external ear canal produce the wax that seals your ears. Wax and fine hairs in these canals collect debris that may otherwise penetrate deeper into the ear and cause irritation or even permanent damage to the eardrum.
Earwax buildup can cause these symptoms and more.
- Ear irritation
- Discharge or odor from the ear
- Reduced hearing
- Earache or an infection
- Fullness in the ear
- Noises or ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
Reasons to Visit the Doctor
Sometimes, a buildup of earwax that isn’t causing noticeable symptoms will dissolve on its own. However, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s time to visit your doctor.
Symptoms may be indicative of something else. Too much earwax can only be diagnosed by having someone else, typically a doctor, check your ears. The wax in the ear canal is not usually causing symptoms like ear pain or hearing loss. You may have some other medical issue that needs fixing.
Usually, a tiny bit of earwax will work on the ear canal daily. It gets rinsed out or falls out the top as fresh wax is poured in. Too much earwax production or ineffective earwax removal can lead to an obstructed ear canal.
When people try to remove earwax on their own, frequently with cotton swabs or other objects, they end up blocking their ear canals. Unfortunately, rather than eliminating wax, this action often merely pushes it further into the ear canal. If your healthcare practitioner removes your earwax more frequently than once a year, you may want to ask them for advice on preventing future buildup.
Ear examinations are a standard element of pediatric checkups. A doctor’s visit is the perfect time to have your child’s ears checked for wax buildup and have it removed if necessary.
Earwax blockage can be a severe issue if not dealt with promptly and effectively. If you think you may have an earwax blockage, it is essential to see a doctor or ENT specialist as soon as possible. Earwax blockage can cause hearing loss, pain, and even infection if not treated properly.
Hear More Associates has the best hearing specialists in Rhode Island, Massachusetts! We take pride in providing reasonably priced, individualized options for everyone. To receive professional treatment, call us today!