Coates Hearing Clinic, P.A.

Earwax Removal

An audiologist looking in a patient's ear with an otoscope
When earwax accumulates in the ears and causes a blockage, earwax removal may be necessary. Earwax, also known as cerumen, is naturally produced by the glands in the ears to lubricate the ear canals and keep dust and debris from getting too far down in the ear canal. Cerumen typically clears itself from the ears, but in some instances, it can accumulate and cause a blockage. In these cases, earwax removal may be necessary.
Anatomy of the ear

Symptoms of Earwax Blockage

Symptoms of earwax blockage include

  • Earache
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Feeling of ear fullness
  • Decreased hearing
  • Dizziness

If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at home or at your hearing care professional’s office, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.

Proper Way to Clean Your Ears

Earwax typically clears itself from the ears. Lower jaw movements, such as speaking or chewing, move earwax towards the outer ear canal. This continuous motion helps to cleanse the ear and push out excess earwax.

If, however, you have issues with earwax build-up or blockage, earwax removal may be necessary.

Earwax Removal

There are several things you can do at home to remove earwax from your ears, including

  • Use a warm, soft cloth to remove earwax at the outer ear.
  • Use drops of warmed olive oil, almond oil, water, or a commercial solution to remove larger amounts of earwax.
  • Try irrigating the ear and gently rinsing it out with water.

There are also some at-home earwax removal kits that can be purchased over-the-counter in most drug stores. These kits are not for everyone, especially those who have some ear conditions. It is, therefore, best to check with your doctor first before attempting to use these kits to make sure it is safe for you.

Generally, these kits consist of a liquid that softens earwax and a small rubber bulb syringe. You will be given directions on how much and how often to apply the liquid to your ear canals, allowing it to sit for a while in your ears to soften up the earwax. Bubbling and fizzing sensations in your ears are normal with use. You will then use the bulb syringe to flush your ears with warm water gently to remove the earwax. It may take several days to clear the blockage completely from your ear.

Earwax Removal at Coates Hearing Clinic

If your earwax blockage is more significant where the earwax builds up in your ears and becomes too hard to wash away naturally, contact Coates Hearing Clinic at (919) 300-5438 to schedule an appointment. Our audiologists use one of two methods to remove earwax: irrigation or curettage.

Irrigation is the most common method your audiologist will use to remove blockages. Unlike at-home earwax removal kits, your audiologist may use stronger earwax removal medications in conjunction with irrigation. Carbamide peroxide is typically the main ingredient in these medications.

Curettage, the less common method, involves the use of a curette. A curette is a long, curved instrument that is used along with suction to scrape ear wax gently from the ear canal, removing the blockage.

How Not To Remove Earwax Build-Up

People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems, as cotton swabs can push a blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear (e.g., eardrum rupture and/or earwax impaction).
Do not use cotton swabs for ear wax removal

Audiologists agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portion of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.

Audiologists also DO NOT recommend that you use ear candles to remove ear wax, as these have not been proven effective and could potentially cause serious injury.

Causes of Earwax Buildup and Blockage

Some people just produce a lot of earwax, and over time they have a buildup that needs to be removed before the earwax becomes impacted. For others, the use of hearing aids, wearing earplugs, and using cotton swabs may impact earwax. Whatever the cause, you should seek treatment from an audiologist.

Contact Us

If you suspect you may have issues with earwax buildup or impaction, contact Coates Hearing Clinic at (919) 300-5438 for evaluation and treatment. You may also schedule an appointment online.

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