Earwax is basically a waxy oil produced by the ear canal, which protects the ear from microorganisms, foreign particles, and dust. Earwax also helps protect the skin of the ear canal from irritation that might cause due to water. Normally, if an excessive amount of earwax forms in the ear canal, it naturally finds a way out from the ear canal and gets washed away from the ear opening.
If excessive earwax builds up in the ear canal, it can create blockage in the ear. Ear wax buildup can occur due to several reasons. Wax buildup can cause various problems in the ear, including temporary hearing loss. Excessive wax buildup can also cause problems with wearing hearing aids. We will talk about all that in this article.
Reasons Behind Earwax Buildup
Earwax can build up in an excessive amount naturally in some people’s ears. But excess earwax won’t lead to blockage automatically. Earwax blockage mostly occurs due to at-home removals, as trying to clean ear wax by using bobby pins, cotton swabs, or other objects in the ear canal can push the wax deep inside the ear and create a blockage.
Also, using earphones frequently can cause wax buildup in the ear, as the extra earwax gets prevented from coming out of the ear canals by the earphones. It causes earwax blockages.
Signs of Earwax Buildup
Earwax can have a variety of appearances, from dark brown to light yellow. Darker or lighter shades don’t necessarily indicate a blockage or any other problem. There are some signs that might indicate excessive earwax buildup of earwax blockage. These signs are:
- Sudden loss of hearing, which is usually partial and temporary
- Having a feeling of fullness in the ear
- Facing tinnitus, which causes a buzzing or ringing sound in the ear
Symptoms of Wax Buildup
If someone faces earwax blockage in their ear, or unremoved wax gets built up in someone’s ear, they can cause infection in the ear. This blockage can also lead to several other symptoms. These symptoms are-
- Acute pain in the ear
- A chronic pain in the ear that doesn’t go away
- Hearing Loss
- Drainage from the ear
- Odor coming out from the ear
If you face any of these symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible. However, these symptoms can derive from other health issues too. Go through a full medical evaluation to understand if your problems occurred as a result of earwax blockage or not.
How You Can Take Care of Earwax Blockage
Attempting to dig out extra earwax or earwax buildup all by yourself can lead to major damages in the ear, and cause infection, or hearing loss problems. However, you can clear the outer part of the ears by using cotton swabs and getting rid of the excess earwax in there by yourself.
Here are some measures that you can take to get rid of the excess earwax from your ears:
1. Earwax Softening
You can try softening the excess earwax by using otc drops that are used for this purpose specifically. It will help to get rid of the earwax blockage that you might be facing due to excessive earwax buildup. You can also try using:
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Mineral Oil
- Carbamide Peroxide
- Baby Oil
2. Ear Irrigation
You can also remove earwax blockage by getting your ear irrigated. You can use an OTC kit and follow the instructions provided with it to properly irrigate your ear. Or, you can try following these steps for ear irrigation:
- At first, sit or stand by keeping your head in a standard position
- Then gently pull the outside part of your ear upward
- After that, send a stream of water into the ear by using a syringe. Make sure that the water is at body temperature. If the water is too warm or too cold, it can cause dizziness.
- Tip your head and let the water drain
You might have to conduct this process multiple times to completely get rid of the blockage. Also, if you deal with this condition often, going through routine ear irrigations can help you prevent it. However, make sure not to attempt ear irrigation if you are suffering from an ear injury, or you have gone through a medical procedure in your ear. If you irrigate an ear with a ruptured eardrum, it can lead to infection or even hearing loss. So, you’ll need to be careful about conducting this procedure.
3. Other Medical Treatments of Earwax Blockage
Among other medical treatments of earwax blockage, there are some convenient methods that you can go for. They are-
- Flushing the wax out with prescription-strength ear drops, or sodium bicarbonate
- Scooping the earwax out by using a small plastic spoon, called “curette”.
- There is another procedure called “general suction” that can be used to remove an earwax blockage.
Earwax and Hearing Loss
Your ear canal can get blocked if too much ear wax builds up in there. The excess ear wax can work as a sonic barricade, and prevent sound waves from passing through from the outer ear to the inner ear. This situation can cause conductive hearing loss. One faces huge difficulties in listening to softer sounds if they suffer from conductive hearing loss. They also hear the loud sounds in a more muffled manner. Earwax blockage is one of the most common reasons for suffering from conductive hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss that occurs due to earwax blockage is a temporary hearing loss, as you can simply get rid of the condition by removing the blockage. And you can go through the above mentioned processes to clean the extra earwax.
Hearing Aids and Earwax
If you already have hearing loss problems, you might be using hearing aids so that you can listen better, communicate with people more comfortably, and conveniently get on with your usual life. Using hearing aids can also cause earwax buildup in your ear canal. Using certain hearing aids can actually increase the production of earwax in your ear canal. That’s why you need to use suitable hearing aids for waxy ears.
In that case, earwax can cause damage to your hearing aids by getting into the receiver and other parts of your hearing aids. Delicate electrical components of your hearing aids can get damaged due to the acidic nature of the earwax. Also, the hearing aid can get jammed if too much earwax gets inside the hearing aids. It can disrupt the sound quality, and make it difficult for you to hear things. Then you will have to get your hearing aids repaired.
That’s why it’s important to clean your hearing aids regularly with a dry and soft cloth to keep them safe from earwax. You can also use a hearing aid cleaning kit to clean it properly. Most importantly, you can go for special hearing aids that are not prone to much earwax buildup.
Earwax is something that forms naturally inside our ear canal. It gets produced to keep our ears safe, as it works as a protective barrier, moisturizer, bug repellent, and even an antibacterial element. But if it gets produced in an excessive amount, it can cause various problems in your ear, including hearing loss. So, make sure you keep your ears clean from excessive ear wax and prevent any sort of earwax blockage in your ear canal. This way, you will be able to keep yourself safe from different health conditions regarding your ear and your hearing.