Earwax Removal

Removing Earwax Blockages

Earwax, or Cerumen, is a naturally produced substance that protects the ears. It is produced to prevent debris from getting too far into the ear canal, as well as keeps the ear canal lubricated. In usual circumstances Cerumen naturally clears itself, but can sometimes accumulate and create a blockage. This commonly happens with people who wear hearing aids or ear molds.

Cerumen Blockage Symptoms Include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Decreased hearing
  • Earache
  • A Feeling of fullness is the ear
  • Dizziness

Depending on the severity and size of the blockage, it may need to be removed by a professional. Some blockages can be dealt with at home.

At Home Earwax Removal

In some cases a physician may send a patient home with an ear wax removal kit. These kits can also be bought at most drug stores. The earwax removal kits usually include a rubber syringe and a liquid that helps to soften the earwax. They include easy to follow directions on how much liquid to apply to your ear canals, and for how long to leave it in to soften the earwax. You will experience a bubbling sensation after applying the liquid, and afterwards will flush your ears with warm water to clear the earwax. Some people are not advised to use these at home ear wax removal kits, so it’s best to speak with your hearing professional before attempting this.

Earwax Removal Methods To Avoid

A common method people use to try to remove earwax is cotton swabs. This sometimes causes more problems by pushing the earwax blockage deeper into the ear canal. This risks damaging the ear even more. Physicians usually agree using cotton swabs to remove earwax is a bad idea, and they should only be used on the outer part of the ear.

Removing Earwax With A Professional

Significant earwax blockage may need to be removed by your hearing care provider. Two methods that are typically used at a specialist are irrigation and curettage.

The most common way your hearing specialist will remove your blockage is through irrigation. Your hearing professional may use a solution that is similar, but stronger, than the ones used in at home removal kits. The main ingredient in this solution is usually carbamide peroxide. This, used in conjunction with irrigation, will flush the earwax from the ear.

Less common than irrigation, is the curettage method. This involves using a curette, which is a long, curved instrument. Used in conjunction with suction, the earwax is removed from the ear.

If your earwax or a blockage is causing you discomfort, you should make an appointment with your hearing care professional. Earwax removal is usually a painless procedure and brings immediate relief.

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Kristin Koch, Au.D.

Clinical Audiologist

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Nicole Denney, Au.D.

Clinical Audiologist

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