Earwax (cerumen) is a yellowish waxy substance produced by healthy ears. Earwax protects the ear from bacteria, water and foreign particles. It also assists in the cleaning and lubrication of the ear canal. Usually, earwax makes its way out of the ear on its own. This happens naturally with activities you do everyday, such as chewing and yawning. If a buildup does occur, the earwax can block the ear.
Causes of Earwax Blockage
A blockage of earwax occurs when cerumen builds up too much in your ear for your body to remove naturally. The most common cause of a blockage is when people try to clean their ears own their own improperly using q-tips or other objects. Often, instead of cleaning out the earwax, it is just pushed deeper inside the ear. Earphone and ear plug usage can also cause wax buildup, as the earphones can prevent earwax from naturally coming out of the ear canal.
Symptoms of Earwax Blockage
The most common symptoms of earwax blockage is fullness in the ears and hearing loss. Sometime, ear pain and ringing in the ear (tinnitus) can occur. In severe cases, infection can develop and cause severe pain in the ear. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor, as these may also be signs of a more serious condition.
How Does an ENT Treat an Earwax Blockage?
In order to diagnose a buildup of earwax, your doctor will need to look in your ear with a special magnifying instrument called an otoscope. Your doctor can remove the wax buildup a few ways: with a small curved instrument called a curet, through suction or by flushing out the wax using a water pick or warm water. Wax-removal medications may be recommended.
It’s important to allow a physician to evaluate the situation and make a recommendation for treatment or removal.
Call River ENT at (512) 677-6368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.