You have a number of different options for earwax removal, but please avoid using cotton buds!

Everything You Need to Know about Earwax

by | Jul 21, 2022 | Patient Resources

About 12 million people, 5% of adults, seek help for earwax buildup every year, for good reason.

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is made up of dead skin cells, modified sweat, and oil from your sebaceous glands, along with keratin from the hair in your ears. The wax is waterproof and somewhat sticky, and it usually sits at the outer end of your ear canal.

Most of the time earwax is a sign of a healthy ear. It acts as a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent that prevents dirt and debris from reaching your eardrum and inner ear, and it keeps your ear clean and lubricated.

However, earwax can become a problem when it builds up to the point where it causes a hearing impairment, dizziness, earaches, or tinnitus.

How Does Earwax Build Up?

We’ve seen earwax building up in patients’ ears for a number of reasons:

  • Ironically, earwax can accumulate from cleaning out your ears too often.
  • Some people find that their earwax does not work its way out of their ears as quickly as it might for other people.
  • Using cotton buds pushes the earwax farther down the ear canal.
  • Earwax can collect around the ear molds in hearing aids. (Drop yours off for a clean and check regularly!)
  • Older people move to a soft or liquid diet and the lack of chewing/jaw movement slows down the exit of earwax.

What are Some Signs that I Need Earwax Removal?

You’re more likely to notice the buildup of earwax when your hearing seems very different, but even a partial blockage can affect the quality of your hearing. It can also make your hearing aids less effective.

When your earwax gets wet, it swells up, which explains why your ears could feel plugged up after a swim. This feeling usually goes away once it’s dried out.

You’ll need professional earwax removal if you’ve been noticing:

  • A bad small
  • A discharge
  • Itchiness
  • Hearing loss
  • A cough
  • A blocked-up feeling
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Earache

If the feeling is just one of discomfort, you can likely treat it at home.

Concerned Your Earwax Is Blocking Your Hearing? Book An Earwax Removal in Lake Charles.

How Do I Remove Earwax from My Ears?

If you catch it early enough, earwax can be removed safely at home. Sadly, though, by the time you notice the buildup of earwax, it’s likely too late for any home remedies to work properly.

You have a number of different options for earwax removal within the two following categories:

  • Irrigation kits or homemade solutions
    • Homemade – These can be made from saline or hydrogen peroxide solutions and poured slowly and gently into the ear in measured amounts. Don’t use a syringe as the pressure of your irrigation will just push the wax farther down the ear canal, causing possible damage. Never use straight hydrogen peroxide as it will dry out your ears.
    • Kits – Comes in a bottle with a dispenser and a collection bowl.
  • Softeners
    • Homemade – You can use olive oil or mineral oil with a dropper. Drop in 2-3 drops a day for four days and see if it helps the earwax to work its way out. Don’t do this is you have any allergies to these oils.
    • Store bought – Follow the directions.

Never put any type of solution or drops in your ears if you’ve had a recent ear infection, eardrum trauma, of ear surgery. You could damage your hearing permanently.

Unfortunately, too many people go about this removal the wrong way. The two methods of cleaning out your ears I’ve listed above are the only ones I would consider to be relatively safe. Any other ways you’ve heard about can cause a lot of unforeseen problems. These methods include:

  • Cotton buds or Q-Tips – These are extremely dangerous should you suddenly hit your arm or slip while one is in your ear. You can puncture your eardrum and even damage your inner ear.
  • Earwax candle – It doesn’t work, and it can start fires and cause burns. The FDA warns against it.
  • Battery-operated swabbing tools – Similar to ear buds, they can push earwax farther down the ear canal and make the impaction far worse.

Earwax Cleaning in Lake Charles

If you want your earwax removal experience to go beyond your expectations, come see us at our main office or south Lake Charles location. It won’t hurt, and your ears will be clean in minutes.

Not only will we remove your earwax safely and efficiently, but we can also test your hearing while you’re hear to make sure the earwax was the only reason for your sudden hearing loss.

You’ll also have the benefit of our being able to examine your ear canal and eardrum and make sure it all looks healthy.

Fill out the request form on this page for a callback or call us at 337-436-3277 with any questions. We’re ready to help you have the best hearing health possible.

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Dr. Heidi J Sorrells - Audiologist

Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas audiology license. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.