Your ears have several natural guardians, keeping foreign objects and pathogens at bay. Small hairs line the walls of the ear canals, and these walls also manufacture a waxy substance called cerumen, though it’s more commonly known as earwax.
Earwax is constantly being produced, and it normally advances out of the ear canal, assisted by the movement of your jaw when you talk or eat. Small amounts fall out when you shower or wash your hair, and you probably never notice it happening.
However, it’s possible for your body to overproduce earwax or for you to push it deeper into your ear with cotton swabs. People who wear hearing aids sometimes have an issue with the natural movement of earwax too. In this case, the ear canal gets blocked.
It’s possible, with informed home care, to deal with impacted earwax yourself, but the safest way to beat the problem is a quick visit to Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates for professional cerumen removal.
Specialized tools and medical procedures make this an easy and safe way to clear your ears quickly.
Recognizing an earwax blockage
Sometimes, it’s not easy to know your ear is blocked with wax, and when you do have symptoms, these are often shared with other conditions, so it’s hard to self-diagnose accurately.
If you don’t have a previous history of earwax impaction, check with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates when you experience symptoms such as:
- Hearing loss in one ear
- Feelings of fullness or pressure in one ear
- An ear that’s clogged easily when swimming
- Phantom sounds, called tinnitus or ringing in the ear
- Popping or clicking in your ear when you chew
If you’ve had earwax impactions before and you recognize the symptoms, ask your doctor if home care for future episodes is safe for you.
Treating earwax blockages
The safest way to treat earwax impaction is with the assistance of a medical professional. Often, these blockages occur because of at-home attempts to clear the ear of wax with cotton swabs or other objects. The only safe way to remove earwax at home is to soften the blockage and let it naturally work its way out.
Don’t attempt to treat your earwax blockage if you have an ear infection or injury, or if you have drainage tubes in your ear.
Softening earwax typically uses an oil or other substance that reacts with the wax and changes its consistency. Common earwax softeners include:
- Baby or mineral oil
- Natural food oils such as olive or almond oil
- Diluted hydrogen peroxide
- Saline solution
- Solutions found in over-the-counter earwax removal kits
None of these substances work substantially better than another. All require patience, since several treatments are sometimes necessary.
No matter which softener you choose, place several drops in your ear while lying on your side. Remain there for up to 15 minutes to allow the softener to work, then use a cotton ball or tissue to absorb any excess that drains from your ear.
Repeat twice daily for several days. Your blockage will likely clear in that time.
If it doesn’t, or if your symptoms persist, it’s time to contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa, Kansas, for a professional examination. Call the most convenient office to schedule your appointment today.