Can Too Much Ear Wax Hinder Your Hearing?

What we call ear wax develops because our ear canals are lined with hair follicles and glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen. This wax coats the inner surface of the ear canal and protects it by attracting and gathering foreign debris such as dust and dirt, bacteria, and other microbes. A further reason for ear wax is to guard the delicate skin of the ear canal if it is in contact with moisture; So there is nothing abnormal or unhealthy about ear wax or the production of it.

In the majority of people, ear wax gradually makes its way to the external areas of the ear, where it either falls out or can be rinsed away when we clean our ears. In a few people, however, the glands in their ear canals make more ear wax than is normal. Because of this, the wax accumulates and may harden, obstructing the ear canal and keeping sound waves from reaching your inner ear. For that reason, the buildup of surplus ear wax is, for people of every age, one of the most common causes of hearing difficulties.

Indications of ear wax obstruction include things like earaches, a sense that the ear is closed up, a consistent ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial hearing loss, which has a tendency to get steadily worse. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, because the sound waves are hindered from reaching the eardrum, as opposed to sensorineural, as the result of some physiological flaw. Luckily, this grounds for hearing loss is easily diagnosed and remedied.

For those who have experienced some or all of the symptoms previously mentioned, come in to our clinic in Reading, where Dr. Ed Grabarek can quickly and painlessly check to see if the cause is a build up of ear wax. If it is, an abnormal buildup of ear wax is readily treated, either at home or at the clinic.

If Dr. Ed Grabarek diagnoses you as having earwax blockage, there are things you can do at home to remove it. Don’t attempt to use a cotton swab, which can cause the ear wax to become even more compacted. Alternatively, add a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or commercial ear drops designed for this purpose to each ear, allow them to remain in the ear for a few minutes to loosen up the wax, and then wash the loosened wax out, using body-temperature water. (Hot or cold water can cause feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) Drug stores sell small bulb-like syringes which you can use to flush the ear after the wax has been loosened, facilitating the process. Do not try to use a WaterPik or any other jet irrigator created for the teeth because the force of the spray could damage the eardrum, and don’t attempt any form of irrigation at home if you know that your eardrum has been punctured.

If this does not seem to work to get rid of the buildup of ear wax, come see us. .

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Catherine Whittington

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