The ceruminous and sebaceous glands in the ear canal produce a waxy oil called cerumen, which is more commonly known as earwax. The appearance of earwax varies from light yellow to dark brown. Earwax is good, it protects and lubricates the delicate ear canal from debris such as dust, foreign particles and microorganisms. It also helps to get rid of dead skin cells and dead hairs.
Normally excess wax finds its way out of the inner ear canal and into the outer ear without a person even noticing. However, when your glands make more earwax than necessary, it may get hard and end up blocking the ear. Earwax build up is a common reason for temporary hearing loss.
Using cotton buds or any other object can push wax deeper into the ear canal creating a worse problem. Regular headphone users are also more susceptible to wax buildup as the earphones can prevent the natural clearing process of earwax from the ear canals.
Earwax can be particularly problematic in older adults. Wax buildup begins to obstruct hearing, in fact many cases of conductive hearing loss in older adults is caused by earwax.
Signs of earwax buildup include:
Sudden or partial hearing loss, which is usually temporary.
Tinnitus which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear.
A feeling of fullness in the ear
If the wax is not removed this can cause an infection. Please contact your doctor if you experience:
Severe pain in your ear
Pain in your ear that doesn’t go away
Any discharge from your ear
Persistent hearing loss
A smell coming from your ear
It is important to note that hearing loss, dizziness, and earache also have many other causes. Please see your doctor if any of the symptoms above are frequent.
Warning about Hopi Ear Candles
EAR CANDLING is a natural therapy to remove toxins from the ear that supposedly dates back to 2500 BC. Alternative therapists claim that the treatment was used in Ancient Egypt with parchment and beeswax and even by the North American Hopi tribe. However, the Hopi Tribal Council itself has debunked these claims as fraudulent and denies any link between ear candles and the tribe.
Endorsers of ear candles proclaim that they can remove earwax and even help relieve the pain of heightened air pressure while flying, as well as many other health benefits. Research has shown that not only is ear candling ineffective at removing earwax, but it can be dangerous. It can burn the face and ear, it can leave wax in the ear canal, and even worse it can burst the ear drum. Your hearing is precious and your ears deserve specialist care, loss of hearing can seriously impact your quality of life.
You should always seek help from a qualified and trained audiologist who has undergone specific training in earwax removal systems. An audiologist will use an otoscope, a lighted instrument with a magnifier, to see clearly into your inner ear and may use one or all 3 methods of wax removal.
Micro suction - a system that gently sucks out the wax
Irrigation - a gentle system that washes the earwax out of the ears
Jobson Horne probe - which can gently extracts wax, preventing from it going deeper.