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 naturally from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage, especially if you wear hearing aids,use cotton swaps, and/or produce excessive wax.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Decreased hearing
- Hearing aid is more sensitive to feedback or whistling
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Feeling of ear fullness
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at our office or your primary care's office.
At-home earwax softening
In some instances, your audiologist may recommend the use of at-home earwax softeners. Earwax softeners can also be purchased at our office or over the counter in most drug stores.
You will be given directions on how much and how often to apply the liquid to your ear canals, allowing it to sit for 5 minutes in your ears to soften up the earwax. Bubbling and fizzing sensations in your ears are normal with use. There are contraindications to using earwax softeners in some people and with some ear conditions. Before attempting at-home earwax softener, it is advised to speak with us to be sure it is safe for you.
Earwax removal methods to avoid
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. The ears are self cleaning. As you talk and chew, the ear canal moves and allows the wax to naturally migrate out of your ear. There is no need to attempt to remove any wax from the canal.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can compact wax further or puncture your eardrum.
Cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.
Earwax removal at our office
If the earwax blockage is significant, it may need to be removed at our office. We use two methods to remove earwax: suction and/or curettage in conjunction with lighted magnification. A wax softener is also used if needed.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you address the issue as soon as possible. Removing earwax doesn't have to be painful and should bring you relief. You can call our office to make an appointment to remove wax or walk in anytime 8am-5pm and we can check your ears for wax and let you know if an appointment is needed.
We charge $25 per ear and additionally $20 if softener is needed. We do not bill insurances.