Cerumen, also known as earwax, 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 can accumulate and cause a blockage in the ear canal. If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed.
At Home Earwax Removal
Earwax removal kits can also be purchased over the counter in most audiology clinics and drug stores. These kits generally consist of a liquid that softens earwax and a small rubber bulb syringe to flush the wax from your ear canal. It may take several days to completely clear earwax blockages from your ear. You will need to read the directions carefully, and be aware there are contraindications to using these kits in some people and with some ear conditions. Before attempting at-home earwax removal, it is advised you speak with your audiologist or doctor.
How Not to Remove Earwax Buildup
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems as cotton swabs may push the blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing your eardrum.
Physicians and audiologists generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear.
Removal at Your Doctor's or Audiologist’s Office
If the earwax blockage is more significant, it may need to be removed at your audiologists or doctor’s office. Our audiologists use two methods to removed blocked ear wax:
Mechanic removal involves using a lighted magnification tool called a loupe or otoscope. After viewing your ear canal, our audiologists will gently insert a slender curette around the blockage and remove the ear wax. This may involve several attempts to successfully remove all the ear wax.
Irrigation may also be used. A gentle stream of water mixed with an earwax softening agent will be entered into your ear canal allowing the earwax to flush out into a basin.