When your ear feels itchy, or sounds seem muffled, chances are you have a buildup of cerumen or, as it’s more commonly known, earwax. Devin Anderson, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA, and the team at Priority Hearing and Tinnitus in Maricopa and San Tan Valley, Arizona, have helped many patients regain normal hearing and get relief from their symptoms using different techniques to perform cerumen removal. If you develop any discomfort in your ear, or you have questions about earwax and cleaning your ears, call one of the offices or book an appointment online.
Your ear canal — the passage that runs from your outer ear to the eardrum — is lined with small glands that produce cerumen, a waxy substance that’s normally good for your ear.
Cerumen protects your ear from infection-causing bacteria and creates a barrier for insects. It also lubricates the ear canal and protects the tissues from water.
Your natural jaw movement normally moves cerumen through the ear canal toward the outer opening, where it flakes off and is washed out. However, earwax can build up and become impacted for several reasons.
One of the top reasons for cerumen impaction is cleaning your ears with swabs and pushing the earwax back into the ear canal. You can also develop a cerumen buildup when your natural cleaning mechanism doesn’t work.
Patients with hearing aids and those who frequently use earbuds or earphones have a higher risk of cerumen impaction. Additionally, your glands can produce too much earwax that hardens and blocks the canal.
Though not as common, you may have an anatomical defect that narrows the canal, making it more difficult for your body to expel cerumen.
When cerumen becomes impacted, it causes problems such as:
A fever, severe pain, and drainage are signs of an infection.
After examining your ear and verifying that you have a buildup of cerumen, your provider at Priority Hearing and Tinnitus removes the earwax using one of three methods:
Cerumenolytic agents are ear drops containing ingredients that soften, break up, or dissolve your earwax. Your provider gives you specific instructions based on the type of earwax drop, but in most cases, you use the drops once or twice daily for up to seven days.
To irrigate your ear canal and eliminate impacted cerumen, your provider fills a syringe with a mixture of water and a substance that safely breaks down the earwax. After discharging the mixture into your ear, you tilt your head so the water and wax can drain.
Your provider at Priority Hearing and Tinnitus uses a narrow tool like a curette to gently remove the cerumen buildup.
If your ears feel full, itchy, or painful, call Priority Hearing and Tinnitus or schedule an appointment online.