Earwax, also called cerumen, is an often misunderstood substance. For starters, it isn’t a wax, but a mixture of fat, skin cells, sweat, and dirt.
It’s also a beneficial substance to have in your ear, despite its public perception. The presence of it in your ears indicates that your ears are functioning as they should.
Earwax is a wonder substance for your ears. It:
- Moisturizes your ear canal and prevents it from drying out.
- Stops dirt and dust from getting deep inside the ear canal.
- Takes care of dead skin cells.
- It is naturally antimicrobial and prevents bacteria.
Signs you need an earwax cleaning
While earwax should be more celebrated than it is, there are times when you need to clean your ears and get rid of excessive earwax. Here are some signs you need to do so.
- You have blocked ears: The feeling of a clogged ear is unpleasant and could indicate something stuck there.
- You’re experiencing ear pain: Feeling pain in your ear is an indication of impacted earwax.
- You notice dark earwax: Earwax is usually yellow-brown, but if you see it is much darker than that, this is a sign of older earwax that needs to be removed.
- You have a hearing loss: Impacted earwax can lead to a conductive hearing loss, which can lead to dizziness, vertigo, and balance issues if not correctly addressed.
There are many causes of impacted earwax.Older people have ears that might be less efficient at cleaning themselves than younger ears, leading to a blockage more easily. They are also more likely to wear hearing aids daily, which could prevent earwax from being able to leave the ear. For others, their body makes more earwax than they need.
When this happens, many people choose to clean their ears with q-tips. This is a bad idea, and here’s why.
Like cats, it is important to remember that the ear does an excellent job of cleaning itself. That’s why you don’t need to put anything in your ear to clean it. The substance slowly moves out of the ear by its own accord.
When you insert a cotton-tipped swab into your ear, it can damage the ear canal or eardrum and often pushes the earwax further into the ear canal. This exacerbates the issue and can cause a blockage, which leads to hearing loss. In unfortunate circumstances, this can even lead to an ear infection.
What to expect from a professional cleaning with us?
When you have impacted earwax, sometimes you need to see a professional. That’s where we come in. We’ll examine your ears and look at the anatomy of your ear. If there is an excess of wax, we’ll remove it for you with one of the following techniques:
- Ear drops: For milder cases, we might use prescription ear wax softening drops. We can show you how to use them and will continue to monitor your situation.
- Irrigation: For cases where the earwax is still relatively soft, the best option is to dislodge the earwax with water gently. This is a painless procedure and can be done in under an hour.
- Manual earwax removal: If the previous two techniques don’t yield results, we can manually remove earwax. This involves either using specialized tools to extract the earwax manually or using a suction device, which gently sucks excess earwax out of the ear canal. This is another safe and painless method of earwax removal.