Do you have issues with earwax?

It’s not uncommon for people who listen to music through earbuds or those that have a hearing device fitted with an earmold, to have issues with earwax. This is often due to the earbud plugging the ear canal and stopping wax from making a normal exit. Other people produce a lot of wax or else that wax is unusually dry, both of which make it tricky for the ear’s natural coping mechanism to stay on top of things.

What should you do about earwax?

The normal ear is self-cleaning, and for the answer for those people is “Do nothing, except wipe the outer ear with a clean cloth.” While for others ear cleaning may be necessary. The first step is to decide if your ears need cleaning or not, consider if you have the following symptoms:

  • Muffled hearing
  • Itchy ears
  • Regular plugging of earbuds
  • A feeling a fullness in the ear
  • A smell from the ears

Of course, too much earwax is not the only explanation for these symptoms, so it’s important to talk to an audiologist if you experience any abnormalities with your ears.

Should you see a professional?

Once you speak with an audiologist, they may recommend home or office treatment. For mild problems, purchasing a cleaning solution from a pharmacy may be all that’s needed. These special solutions are sympathetic to the delicate skin lining the ear canal, but help soften wax to aid its removal.

For stubborn earwax or if you have another issue such as muffled hearing, your audiologist will more than likely look at your ears at the office. The audiologist will look into your ears with an otoscope, which enables them to see the extent of the problem. The audiologist is also able to identify if there are any deep earwax impactions that may be adversely affecting your hearing.

How do audiologists remove wax?

An audiologist has a variety of tools at their disposal, some of which are highly sophisticated while others are tried and tested.

One such tool is the curette, which is like an extremely slender spoon that is used to scoop the wax out. This is not something you should ever try at home because the risk of an unguided curette can damage your eardrum or worse. However, in the hands of an expert, curettage is extremely effective.

Alternatively, the audiologist may flush your ear with a stronger solution than you can purchase over the counter.

What you shouldn’t do

In the quest for clean ears, the following are definite things to avoid:

  • Cotton swabs: These push wax ahead of the tip, deeper down into the ear and are responsible for causing dense plugs of wax or rupturing the eardrum.
  • Ear candling: It just doesn’t work and any wax it appears to remove is actually from the candle, not your ears!

If you’ve been coping with hearing loss or impacted ears, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area and let them help you get your auditory system in better shape!