Posted October 23, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 2 min read
Earwax, also called cerumen, is made by the body to protect the ears. The ear wax has both lubricating and antibacterial properties. Untreated buildup can lead to hearing loss, irritation, pain in the ear, dizziness, ringing in the ears and other problems. Earwax can be removed in several ways; some of these methods can be done at home.
What is Earwax?
Earwax, also called cerumen, is made by the body to protect the ears.
The ear wax has both lubricating and antibacterial properties.
Most of the time, the old earwax is moved through the ear canal by jaw motions like chewing while the skin in your ear grows from the inside out.
When it reaches the outside of the ear, it flakes off.
Earwax is produced in the outer part of the ear canal, not deep inside the ear.
Earwax is made up of dead skin cells and hair that is combined with the discharge from two different glands.
What are the symptoms of earwax buildup and blockage?
Symptoms of this condition include:
A feeling of fullness in the ear.
Pain in the ear.
Difficulty hearing, which may continue to worsen.
Ringing in the ear (tinnitus).
A feeling of itchiness in the ear.
Discharge or odor coming from the ear.
What does it mean when earwax becomes impacted?
We say that earwax is impacted when it has built up in the ear canal to such a point that there may be signs that something isn’t quite right.
It’s important to note that most people might never need to clean their ears.
Ears are designed to clean themselves.
Earwax buildup and blockage often happens when people use items like cotton swabs or bobby pins to try to clean their ears.
This only pushes the earwax farther into the ears and can also cause injury to the ear.
What are possible complications of earwax buildup and blockage?
If left untreated, excessive earwax may cause symptoms of earwax blockage to become worse.
These symptoms might include hearing loss, ear irritation, etc.
A buildup of earwax might also make it difficult to see into the ear, which may result in potential problems going undiagnosed.
How is earwax buildup and blockage diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider can look into your ears with a special instrument, called an otoscope, to see if earwax buildup is present.
How is earwax buildup and blockage treated?
Earwax can be removed in several ways. Some of these methods can be done at home.
You can clean the outside of the ear by wiping with a cloth. Don’t wad up the cloth and push it into the ear canal.
You can use cerumenolytic solutions (solutions to dissolve wax) into the ear canal. These solutions include:
Hydrogen peroxide or peroxide-based ear drops (such as Debrox®).