Cerumen Cleaning

Hold that Q-Tip! Cerumen, commonly known as earwax, is a natural substance produced by your body that has many uses and benefits. A combination of sweat, oil, and dead skin cells (gross!), cerumen is regulated by the apocrine glands, the same glands that regulate your sweat. Cerumen provides three main functions in your body: it stops dirt and bacteria from entering your inner ears; it keeps your ear canals and outer ears from getting dry and flaky; and it repels little critters such as insects from entering your ear canals.

There are two main kinds of cerumen: wet and dry. In Caucasian and African populations, wet cerumen is more common, while dry cerumen can be found among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Asians. Cerumen grows darker as we age; children tend to have lighter colored earwax, while adults have darker earwax, trapping more dirt and bacteria through the years. Cerumen that is tinged with blood could indicate a bleeding injury – seek medical attention as soon as possible if this is the case.

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Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Cerumen?

Cerumen is regulated by your body, and it is cleared by a natural process of your jaw movement. When you chew or talk, cerumen is loosened and expelled naturally. Hearing specialists advise us to just leave our earwax to its own devices. However, there are instances in which there is overproduction of cerumen, which could obstruct your hearing.

Signs of overaccumulation of cerumen include: earache, fullness in the ear, or a sensation that the ear is plugged; partial hearing loss; tinnitus (“ringing of the ear”); or itching, odor, or discharge from the ear.

You’ve probably seen trendy objects to remove earwax, such as ear candles or ear picks. It is best to steer clear of these instruments to remove cerumen buildup. Cotton swabs (Q-Tips) tend to push earwax deeper in to the ear canal, rather than successfully removing it. This could cause further problems with hearing and impaction. Additionally, swabbing too close to the eardrum could cause damage. Similarly, ear candles have the potential to damage the sensitive structure of your ears. Aside from burns that may be sustained, ear candles could further obstruct your ear canals, or cause perforation in the membrane that separates your ear canal and your middle ear. These tools tend to cause more harm than good when it comes to removing cerumen.

Instead, if you’ve found that cerumen has become troublesome, irritating, or obstructing your hearing, follow a few of the home remedies below and contact us at Aspire Hearing for a cerumen cleaning.

Home Remedies for Cerumen Buildup

The first rule of cleaning your ears: never insert anything into your ear canal. You may use a soft, clean cloth to clean the external parts of your ear. Cerumen buildup could be treated with liquids that soften the wax. Use a few drops of natural oils, such as mineral oil or baby oil, in your ear. We also have great softening agents for purchase at our office. You can stop by the office today to purchase your home treatment for wax removal.

Another option is ear syringing, which uses water or saline solution to clear out the ear. If you are ear syringing at home, please do so with caution and follow the instructions. Water should be warmed to room temperature to prevent dizziness.

If the above home treatments do not successfully remove cerumen, contact us at Aspire Hearing and Balance for a professional cerumen cleaning.

Cerumen Cleaning

It is important to stress again that your auditory system is very sensitive. Your ear canals and ear drums could be easily damaged, if not cleaned properly. As such, it is beneficial to seek professional cleaning/removal for cerumen.

When you come in to see us at Aspire Hearing and Balance for a cerumen cleaning, we will first take a look in your ears with a videon otoscope. We’ll check for impaction of cerumen and look for any other issues within your ear canals.

To remove the excess cerumen, we will soften the buildup with drops first if needed. Then, we may use an instrument called a curette, which is small and curved, to manually remove the wax. Another option is to use a suction machine to expel the wax while inspecting your ear. We will always use a microscope to ensure safe removal. We may also flush out the wax with a special irrigator tool with warm water or saline solution if needed..