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The canals in our ears are lined with hair follicles as well as glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen, or ear wax. This wax lines the interior surface of the ear canal and helps to protect it by attracting and collecting alien particles such as dust and dirt, bacteria, and other microorganisms. A further purpose of ear wax is to defend the hypersensitive skin of the ear canal when it is exposed to moisture; Thus, the creation of ear wax is equally normal and healthy.

In the majority of people, ear wax gradually makes its way to the outer areas of the ear, where it either falls out or can be rinsed away when we clean our ears. But, the glands in certain people’s ears make more wax than normal. Because of this, the wax accumulates and may harden, obstructing the ear canal and keeping sound waves from reaching your inner ear. The buildup of ear wax is among the most widespread grounds for hearing problems, in persons of all ages.

Signs of ear wax blockage include things like earaches, a feeling that the ear is closed up, a consistent ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial hearing loss, which has a tendency to get gradually more serious. This is a type of conductive (rather than sensorineural) hearing loss, in which the sound waves are blocked from reaching the eardrum. Fortunately, this cause of hearing loss is easily identified and remedied.

If you have experienced some or all of the signs and symptoms above, come in to our practice where our hearing care specialists can easily and painlessly check to see if the cause is a build up of ear wax. If this is the case, there are straightforward treatment options to get rid of the surplus ear wax that can be performed either at home, or in the clinic.

If a hearing specialist tells you that you have excess ear wax which is blocking your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself right at home. Do not try to use a Q-tip, which can cause the ear wax to become even more compacted. A much better home treatment is to add drops of mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, or commercial ear drops to each ear, let them loosen the wax buildup, and then wash it out using water at body temperature. (Hot or cold water may cause feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) To rinse out the ear drops, look at purchasing one of the bulb-shaped syringes sold by drug stores, which are intended to make the irrigation procedure simplier and easier. Don’t attempt to use a WaterPik or other jet irrigator designed for the teeth because the pressure of the spray might injure the eardrum, and do not attempt any kind of irrigation at home if you believe that your eardrum has been punctured.

If these home treatments don’t manage to clear up the blockage, call or visit us for help.