Audiologists at Longmont Hearing and Tinnitus Center can take a look at your ears, see if there’s any blockage or earwax impaction, and perform professional earwax removal that will give you the relief you need in no time.
Earwax is a self-cleaning agent that your body naturally produces. It collects dirt, bacteria, and other debris, and for the most part, that it works its way out of your body naturally, through chewing or other jaw motions. Most people don’t ever need to clean their ears, but sometimes wax can build up and affect your hearing. The most important thing to note here is that cleaning with a cotton swab is not recommended, as that can push the wax further into the ear canal.
Earwax is a body secretion that’s actually normal and useful to maintaining ear health. Earwax works as a natural ear cleanser, moving dirt from the inner ear canal outward, gathering dead skin cells and other debris along the way. In fact, according to Harvard Health Publishing, earwax has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
While most people think that earwax is unhygienic and needs to be taken out of the ears regularly, doing so may do more harm than good. The ears are not designed to have zero earwax. In fact, if the ears don’t have enough earwax, they are most likely to feel itchy and bring discomfort.
However, excessive production of earwax is a whole other story.
Earwax is medically known as cerumen. It starts as a mixture of sweat and fatty secretions from the sebaceous glands. Jaw movement from talking, yawning or chewing helps propel the secretions through the canal and out of the ear.
Hearing aids can block the normal migration of earwax out of the ear. When this happens the glands in the ear canal may be stimulated to produce more earwax as a response.
Around 60-70% of the hearing aids sent for repair are damaged by earwax. The sticky secretion tends to seep into hearing aid vents and receivers, and the acidity degrades the components. Ideally, checking for earwax buildup should be part of regular maintenance for anyone wearing hearing aids.
Seeing a professional for earwax removal is still the best course of action. For people with mild earwax problems, yes. Water-based earwax removal drops contain ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, or acetic acid. Oil-based ear drops are designed to soften and lubricate the earwax. Sometimes, OTC ear drops may work on their own. However, there are also cases when a few squirts of water using a bulb syringe is needed to penetrate the earwax. Keep in mind that people with a damaged or perforated eardrum should stay away from using bulb syringes in their ears. If water gets into the middle ear, they are going to be at high risk for infection and complications.
Audiologists tackle earwax blockage with expertise and using the right tools, such as spoon-like curretes that can fit the narrow space of the ear canal. Plus, audiologists have a better view of your ears, there’s no arguing about that.
As we all know, too much of something is not good. That’s the same with earwax; too much earwax can clog up the ear canal which can lead to infections, ear aches, and other related problems. If the earwax gets clogged in a certain way, it can cause a cough by stimulating the vagus nerve branch that is connected to the outer ear. Excess earwax can also lead to some level of hearing loss.
Earwax that sits in the ear canal for a long time can get hard and dry, which is more likely to cause a blockage. As people age, the glandular secretions change in consistency, making the mechanism of traveling through the ear canal more tricky.