Ever wonder what that substance is inside your ears? A lot of us have wax in our ears, but not sure where it comes or what the purpose is. I am hoping this write up can provide you with some of the answers to those questions.
What is wax?
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a substance found in most of our ears. It is made up of oils that are produced inside our ear canal that mix with dead skin cells and dust in the air. This substance is meant to act as a protection for our ears to help prevent irritation on the skin. A small amount of wax in the ear canal is very helpful. However, some people produce larger amounts of wax and need to have wax removed to allow sound to travel through the ear canal.
How do you know if you have wax in your ear?
You may not always realize there is wax in your ear. It is good to have some wax in your ear canal. Typically, as wax is produced, our ears help move the wax out of the canal, trying to prevent buildup. There are some signs to look for indicating a wax buildup in the ear. You may notice a sudden change in hearing in one or both ears, there may be sudden tinnitus (ringing in the ears), a feeling of fullness in your ear, and/or an earache.
What is the best way to remove wax?
As mentioned above, a small amount of wax in the ear canal is normal and helpful. If there is enough wax in the ear that is starting to interfere with hearing or proper use of a hearing aid, then we need to remove the wax.
First, you do NOT want to push anything small into the ear canal (e.g. Q-tips, bobby pins, keys, etc.). There is a chance you may cause injury to the ear canal or damage the ear drum. Also, you are likely pushing more wax into the ear canal, causing it to block the ear even more.
Second, you can try removing the wax at home. Place some baby oil or mineral oil or wax softening drops in the ear. Allow the oil or the drops to soak in the ear canal for several minutes. Apply this treatment once a day for a few days in a row. Once the wax has been softened, it is much easier for the wax to be removed. At home, use some warm water in the shower or with a small bulb syringe and present the water into the ear. This should allow the wax to move out of the ear canal.
Finally, if there is no success at home, please come into one of our Meridian Hearing offices and have the wax removed professionally.