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Cerumen Removal

The waxy oil inside of the ear canal is called cerumen. Also known as earwax, this substance is the body’s natural defense system against bacteria, microorganisms and other harmful foreign particles. It also protects from irritation caused by water that touches the canal skin. The ear canal depends on cerumen working as a strong line of defense. But when too much cerumen builds up, it becomes a major hindrance on its own.

ear wax

Source: The Standard UCU

Why does wax build up in the ear?

There are a lot of things that lead to earwax buildup. Noticing the symptoms is the best way to determine if the problem exists. Tinnitus, fullness in the ear, partial hearing loss and earaches are all telltale signs of buildup. Here are a few things that are known to cause wax build up in the ear.

Incorrect methods using at home removal of earwax is one of the most common ways to cause blockages. Using cotton swabs and other tools will push the wax deeper into the ear. Doing this on a regular basis will cause severe blockage and a higher rate of symptoms.


Source: ExtraPeachy

Constant use of headphones/earbuds prevents earwax from naturally leaving the ear canal at regular intervals. Although it is inadvertent, the frequent use of these devices can cause earwax buildups. When earbuds are pulled from the ear and covered in wax, then buildup has already started.

Ear canals that are oddly shaped prevent earwax from leaving the canal on its own. When home removal and earphones/earbuds are added to the mix, this problem worsens.

Hearing aid users are susceptible to build up since the canal opening is blocked by a device. Different styles of hearing aids will provide their own set of pros and cons in this area.  

Hair in the ear canals makes it harder for cerumen to escape. This becomes a bigger problem with drier wax that occurs during old age.

For some people, earwax buildup is inevitable due to lifestyle changes. In others, the buildup happens when the body makes more cerumen than it needs. Taking personal steps to stop cerumen buildup is possible with the right mindset and tools. But cerumen is meant to protect the body, so completely getting rid of it would cause even more harm.


Source: Ghana Hospitals

Treatment options

Cerumen management by a professional should be done at least once a year to get rid of buildup. Removal options include curette, suction and irrigation. Your provider will discuss the best option for your individual anatomy and cerumen buildup. Over the counter treatments are available in many different forms. Softening cerumen with medicine makes it easier to remove with a tool. Home irrigation kits use a manual method of flushing out ears, so both are effective in their own right. Even with these tools at a patient’s disposal, they in no way replace the in-office visit for cerumen removal. Combining home and office cerumen removal methods will produce the best results for blockages.