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, pain and hearing loss.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Tinnitus (noise in the ear)
- Hearing loss
- Ear pressure
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at home or at your doctor's office, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.
How Not to Remove Earwax Buildup
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. Primary Care Physicians commonly use irrigation to remove the blockage. However, both of these methods 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, potentially damage your ear, including a ruptured ear drum or abrasions to the skin of the canal causing bacteria and infection to the skin of the canal.
Irrigation can potentially cause pain, dizziness, ruptured ear drum and excessive growth of yeast to the ear canal.
ENT Physicians generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and you should only wipe the opening of the ear canal with a tissue when needed. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small objects into the ear canal.
Removal of Earwax at your Local ENT's Office
The method Dr. Hechler uses to remove cerumen is called Curettage, which involves using either a curette, cup forceps or suctioning. In some cases all of these utensils are used to remove the cerumen. A curette is a long, curved tool that is used to gently scrape cerumen from the ear canal, essentially removing blockage.
If you experience pain, discomfort or hearing loss as a result of ear wax, or you suspect blockage, it's important that you see a doctor as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax doesn't have to be painful and should bring you relief.