Updated: Nov 23, 2020
One of our most asked questions is regarding ear wax removal. Well, there are a few things you should know about wax. Wax is called cerumen in medical terms and is made by the body to protect the ears. It is a natural lubricant and contains antimicrobial agents to help repel unwanted objects (such as bugs, dirt, and dust) from the ears. Wax is technically only produced in the outer portion of the ear canal and migrates out naturally as the dead skin from the ear drum and ear canal grow outward. So, when ear wax overproduces, isn’t allowed to properly migrate out, or is shoved back inward (from Q-tips!), it becomes impacted. At this point, an individual may have some symptoms: a plugged feeling in the ear, difficulty hearing, ringing/noise in the ear, dizziness, or itchiness. Then, the question is how does one go about removing the wax? First of all, cotton swabs are not the answer. This might be our first thought of removal; however, cotton swabs are only going to push the wax deeper in the canal, even if it looks like some is on the swab. Ideally, you should call a medical provider, whether it’s your primary doctor/nurse, audiologist, or Ear, Nose, and Throat physician. These professionals can look in your ears and provide a safe method of removal for wax build up. There is also ear wax removal kits sold at drugstores. But, if you’re going to use water or irrigation at home, dip your finger in the water to see if it’s the same temperature as your body. If the water is too warm or too cold, it will elicit dizziness. DO NOT use bobby pins, paper clips, etc. to try and remove wax yourself. DO NOT attempt ear candling. This can actually cause damage and has no evidence-based research to be an effective method of wax removal. Overall, wax is a good and healthy substance and is only problematic when there’s too much.
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Earwax Accessed 04/04/2019
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Nothing Smaller Thank Your Elbow, Please Accessed 04/04/2019