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, excess wax is removed from the ear canal naturally. If a buildup does occur, the earwax it can block the ear canal and cause itchiness and temporary hearing impairment.
Causes of Earwax Blockage
A blockage of earwax is usually caused by an overproduction of earwax or insufficient cleaning. The shape of a patient’s ear canal can contribute. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis can also be a factor. Skin organisms can also grow in the wax and lead to blockages. Use of ear plugs, earphones, or hearing aids can also be a factor with building up wax.
How does an ENT treat an earwax block?
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. Once diagnosed, 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. Often a culture of the ear wax is taken. Various over the counter ear drops can be helpful as well as a few over the counter shampoos.
At home Earwax blockage treatments
As long as your ear is healthy and does not have tube or a hole in it, at-home treatments can be helpful to manage earwax buildup. An eyedropper can be used to apply a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal; this is done to soften the wax.
Call Dr. Sipp at (404) 591-1426 for more information or to schedule an appointment.