Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a naturally occurring substance in our ears. It plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our ears by trapping dust and other small particles, preventing them from reaching the eardrum. Despite its importance, excessive earwax can lead to problems like blockages and impactions. Understanding earwax management is crucial to maintaining good ear health. At Maze Hearing & Balance, we provide professional services to help you with your earwax management needs.
The Nature of Earwax
Each person's ear produces earwax, but the amount and type are influenced by genetic factors. The quantity and consistency of earwax can vary from person to person and can be affected by factors like age and gender.
Why Does Our Ear Produce Earwax?
Earwax is produced by glands in the ear canal. It serves several purposes:
- Traps dust and small particles, preventing them from reaching the eardrum.
- Maintains an acidic environment that curbs the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi.
- Lubricates the ear canal, preventing it from drying out and becoming itchy.
How Is Earwax Expelled From Our Ears?
Normally, the earwax dries up and falls out of the ear, along with any trapped dust or debris. Movements of the jaw, such as chewing or talking, help to push the earwax out of the ear canal.
When Does Earwax Become a Problem?
While earwax is necessary for our ear health, excessive earwax can lead to blockages. This usually occurs when earwax is pushed deep within the ear canal.
Symptoms of Earwax Blockage
Excessive earwax can lead to several symptoms, including:
- Decreased hearing
- Ear pain
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
- Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
You should seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms. More serious symptoms, like severe pain, drainage from the ear canal, itching, odor from the ear, and fever, may indicate an infection.
Causes of Earwax Blockage
The most common cause of earwax blockage is the use of cotton swabs and other objects like bobby pins, which can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. People who use hearing aids or earplugs are also more prone to earwax blockage.
How to Safely Remove Earwax
It's important to remove earwax safely to avoid damaging the ear canal or eardrum. Here are some do's and don'ts for safe earwax removal:
- Use a warm, soft cloth to remove normal amounts of earwax at the outer ear after washing or showering.
- Soften the earwax with drops of warmed olive oil, almond oil, water, or a commercial solution.
- Try irrigating the ear by gently rinsing it out with water.
- Use ear candles. They may cause serious injury and have not been proven effective in clinical trials.
- Stick cotton swabs or other objects in the ear. They can cause injury and push wax farther into the ear canal.
When to See a Professional?
If your symptoms persist, especially pain or hearing loss, or if home remedies prove ineffective, it's time to consult a professional. Earwax buildup blocking your ear canal warrants a visit to a hearing care professional.
At Maze Hearing & Balance, we provide customized treatment options for your individual needs. We can help with all your questions and concerns related to earwax management. Our professional services include prescribing ear drops, applying wax-dissolving agents, using a suction technique, or providing another appropriate solution.
Understanding and managing earwax is crucial for maintaining good ear health. At Maze Hearing & Balance, we're here to guide you through the process with our professional earwax management services.