I pushed wax deep in my ear: The request could not be satisfied
Ear Wax Removal Methods That Work – Cleveland Clinic
Trouble hearing? Or did you push
that cotton swab a little too deep this time? A clogged ear from ear wax
buildup is at best annoying and at worst a prelude to hearing loss. So how can
you best handle ear wax woes?
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“Sometimes, trying to clean them causes more problems than it’s worth,” says ear, nose and throat specialist Anh Nguyen-Huynh, MD. “Ears are like self-cleaning ovens. When the outer layer of skin in the ear canal sheds, the wax will fall out with it.”
But if you’re among those whose
ear wax factories are working overtime, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh shares do’s and don’ts
for removing wax from your ear.
The deal with ear wax, aka cerumen
If your ears seem waxier than most, take heart: Ear wax,
also known as cerumen, is not only normal, it’s necessary.
“People think that ear wax is dirty and needs to be cleaned, but ear wax has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties,” notes Dr. Nguyen-Huynh.
“It also protects ears from things that could hurt the eardrum, such as dust, hair or small insects.” (How’s that for a visual?)
But like most things in life,
it’s all about balance — too much wax can block your ears and cause temporary
hearing loss or infections. “A small number of people will need cleaning if
they produce too much wax that jams up the ear, especially if they have a
smaller-than-average ear canal,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains.
Other factors that can affect
your amount of ear wax include:
Two ear wax removal methods to try
If ear wax is becoming a nuisance, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends two
easy ear cleaning methods:
1. Over-the-counter ear cleaning drops
If you have a small amount of wax, over-the-counter ear
cleaners work well. Look for drops that contain hydrogen or other kinds of peroxide.
The peroxide does a good job of breaking up ear wax.
Here’s how to use them:
- Lay sideways:
Make sure the ear you’re cleaning faces up and add the drops as directed.
- Let it sit:
Allow the cleaning solution to sit in your ear for around five minutes. This
lets the liquid soak in and soften things up.
- Grab a tissue:
When you sit up, the liquid should come out, along with the ear wax that broke
loose. Have a tissue ready to catch it all.
If that method doesn’t work, the
ears might need flushing with a bulb syringe. But there are a few caveats:
- Be gentle:
Flush your ear gently to avoid harming your eardrum.
- Watch the temperature:
The water should not be too cold or too warm. If it is, the temperature
difference could make you dizzy.
- Avoid if necessary:
Don’t use the flushing method if you have a hole in your eardrum or if you’ve ever
had eardrum surgery. Flushing may damage your eardrum repair.
If you are not comfortable
flushing your own ears, said Dr. Nguyen-Huynh, you might want to check with
your primary care provider’s office to see if there is a nurse who would do it
Ear cleaning drops may not work if you have too much ear wax or a condition called impacted cerumen (when there’s a firm wax plug blocking your ear canal).
“When it’s a plug, putting peroxide
in your ear may make things worse because you’re softening the plug but not
dissolving or removing it,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says. “Then the softened plug
becomes like a wall of mud that can plug your ear even more.”
2. Mineral or olive oil
Anecdotally, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says people who put olive
oil in their ear before getting a cleaning seem to get wax out more easily. “It
lubricates the ear canal,” he explains. “But I’m not sure it’s any better than
what we usually recommend, which is mineral oil.”
Two ear wax removal remedies to avoid
All ear wax removal hacks are not
created equal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends steering clear of:
- Cotton swabs: A manufacturer’s warning on the package says it all: Do not insert swab into ear canal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains: “A cotton swab acts like a ramrod in an old-style cannon. The tip pushes the ear wax in deeper, so the more you use it, the more ear wax you push in. Plus, you may rupture your eardrum if you push too far. Or if you scratch your ear canal, it can get infected because now dirt and bacteria can penetrate under your skin.”
- Ear wax removal candles: Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says you should doubly stay away from this method: These candles don’t work, AND they may burn you.
When to see a doctor about a clogged ear
While ear wax is generally more annoying than dangerous,
sometimes you need a doctor to clear it. If home remedies don’t work, your ear
hurts or you have trouble hearing, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says it’s smart to seek medical evaluation.
“Someone needs to look in and
see if the ear canal is open or if the wax is plugging it up,” he says.
If the situation is minor, you may be able to get your
ears unblocked right then and there. If not, ENT doctors can use
operating microscopes to magnify inside the ear canal, loosen the wax and vacuum
And a clogged ear may have other
causes. “It could be a middle ear infection with fluid filling up the space
behind the eardrum,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh cautions. “Or you could have a viral
infection that affects the inner ear. In those cases, a doctor can diagnose and
treat you to prevent permanent hearing loss.”
Impacted Earwax | Cedars-Sinai
Not what you’re looking for?
What is impacted earwax?
Earwax is a waxy, yellowish
substance that lines the inside of your ear canal. The ear canal is the tube that
from your outer ear to your eardrum. The wax helps protect your canal from water,
infection, injury, and foreign objects. But too much wax buildup can cause problems.
This buildup is called impacted earwax.
Special glands in your ear make secretions that combine with dead skin cells to form
earwax. The earwax travels with slowly growing cells of your skin. Over time, the
earwax moves from the inner part of your ear canal to the entrance of the canal. Jaw
movement also helps the earwax move through the canal.
Some things can cause problems with this normal process. Any type of blockage in the
canal can cause a problem. Some people also may make too much earwax. This causes
it to build up in the ear canal. The earwax may not totally block your ear canal.
Most people have just a little buildup of earwax, which doesn’t cause any symptoms
Impacted earwax is very common. As
you get older, earwax tends to become harder and less mobile. Older adults are more
likely to have problems with too much earwax. It can cause symptoms such hearing loss.
It can also prevent a full exam of the ear.
What causes impacted earwax?
Earwax buildup happens when your
ear makes earwax faster than your body can remove it. This can happen with many health
conditions, such as:
- Bony blockage (osteoma or
- Infectious disease, such as swimmer’s
ear (external otitis)
- Skin disease (such as eczema)
- Autoimmune disease (such as
- Narrowed ear canal (from birth,
chronic inflammation, or injury)
- Making too much earwax due to
Some of these conditions cause a
physical blockage. Others cause more earwax to be made. In some cases, the cause of
impacted earwax isn’t known.
Objects placed in your ear can also lead to impacted earwax, especially if done repeatedly.
This is more likely in children and young people who have no other problems with their
ear canals. For example, if you use cotton swabs to remove earwax, you may push the
wax deeper into your canal. Over time, this may cause complete blockage. Hearing aids,
swimming plugs, and swim molds can have a similar effect with repeated use.
Who is at risk for impacted earwax?
You may be at increased risk if you
have a health condition that can cause increased earwax buildup, such as eczema. You
also increase your risk if you keep putting objects in your ear, such as a hearing
Older adults and people with thinking (cognitive) problems also have an increased
What are the symptoms of impacted earwax?
Earwax often doesn’t cause any
symptoms, unless it builds up a lot. These are the most common symptoms of impacted
- Hearing loss
- Sense of ear fullness
- Itching in the ear
- Ringing in the ears
You might have only 1 or 2 of these symptoms. They often happen slowly.
The symptoms of impacted earwax may
seem like other health conditions or problems. Always see your healthcare provider
How is impacted earwax diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider can
diagnose impacted earwax by taking your health history and giving you a physical exam.
This might include some simple hearing tests. Your provider should easily see the
when looking at your ear through a device called an otoscope.
Your provider might diagnose you
with impacted earwax even if you don’t have any symptoms. For example, you might need
ear exam for another reason. If you have so much earwax that your provider can’t see
into your ear canal, they might diagnose you with impacted earwax.
How is impacted earwax treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
If you have symptoms of impacted
earwax, your provider will likely advise some kind of treatment. If you don’t have
symptoms, your provider likely won’t advise treatment, unless you need an ear exam
other reasons. Often the earwax goes away on its own with time. In rare cases, removing
earwax can cause problems. Providers may advise removal for people who can’t talk
their symptoms, such as young children.
Treatment options include:
- Medicines dropped into the ear canal,
to soften the earwax and slowly break it down
- Irrigation of the ear canal with water
in your provider’s office
- Manual removal, using special tools in
your provider’s office
Your healthcare provider might
advise 1 of these options, partly based on your other health conditions. You might
a combination of these methods for the best removal.
Providers don’t advise using other
home methods of earwax removal (such as ear candling and ear vacuum kits). Studies
shown these methods don’t work well.
What are possible complications of impacted earwax?
Impacted earwax itself doesn’t
often cause problems. But in rare cases, some treatments for earwax removal cause
- Swimmer’s ear (otitis external)
- Short-term (temporary) hearing loss
- Retention of water in the canal
- Eardrum hole (perforation)
- Ringing in the ears
- Bleeding from the ear
Different removal methods have
different risks for these complications. Your own risk depends on your other health
conditions. For instance, people with diabetes may have a greater risk for swimmer’s
ear. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks that most apply to you.
Can impacted earwax be prevented?
You may not be able to prevent
impacted earwax if you have certain health conditions that make it more likely to
earwax buildup, such as eczema. But if you don’t have these types of health conditions,
you might be able to prevent repeated episodes. Using a topical agent once a week
help. You may also need to plan for a regular ear cleaning every 6 months or so.
Healthcare providers advise not using cotton swabs. They often push the earwax farther
back down your ear canal.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call your healthcare provider if
you have severe symptoms after your earwax removal, such as bleeding from your ears
major ear pain.
Key points about impacted earwax
- Earwax is a normal substance that
helps protect the inside of your ear canal.
- When too much earwax builds up (gets
impacted), it can cause symptoms such as temporary hearing loss.
- It is more common in older
- Certain health conditions make it more
likely to have impacted earwax.
- You might need special drops to help
remove your earwax. Or you might need an office procedure to remove it. Never try
remove your own earwax manually.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments,
or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also
know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that
- Know how you can contact your provider
if you have questions.
Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.
Not what you’re looking for?
Is this your child’s symptom?
- Earwax (cerumen) buildup or blockage
- Questions about earwax removal
Symptoms of Earwax Buildup
- Too much earwax can cause rubbing of the ear or poking in the canal.
- A piece of ear wax can become dry and hard in the ear canal. This creates a feeling that an object is in the ear.
- Complete blockage (plugging) of the ear canal by wax causes more symptoms. These include decreased or muffled hearing.
- A large piece of earwax may be seen inside the ear canal.
Causes of Earwax Buildup
- Cotton Swabs. Earwax buildup is usually from using cotton swabs. They push the wax back in and pack it down.
- Fingers. A few children (perhaps 5%) normally produce more wax than others. It usually will come out if it’s not pushed back by fingers.
- Ear Plugs. Wearing ear plugs of any type can also push wax back.
Earwax is Normal
- Everyone has earwax. Earwax is normal and healthy. Earwax is not dirty or a sign of poor hygiene.
- Earwax is also called cerumen.
- Earwax is made by special glands in the outer third of the ear canal.
- Earwax has a purpose. It protects the skin lining the ear canal. It is a natural water-proofing agent.
- Earwax also has germ-killing properties.
- New earwax is soft and a golden-yellow color.
- Older earwax becomes dryer and turns to a brown or black color.
Ear Canals are Self-Cleaning
- Ear canals are designed to clean themselves.
- The ear canal skin slowly moves out of the ear canal. It carries the earwax along with it. The wax dries up and becomes flaky. It falls out of the ear on its own.
- There are some people who produce much more earwax than others. For such people periodic ear cleaning may be needed.
- Earwax only needs to be removed from inside the ear if it causes symptoms. Examples of symptoms are decreased hearing, discomfort, fullness or blockage.
Problems from Using Cotton-Tipped Swabs
- The cotton-tipped swab pushes the wax back in. The earwax builds up and causes symptoms.
- Ear canal blockage
- Decreased or muffled hearing.
- Trapped water behind the wax (can lead to Swimmer’s Ear).
- Itchy or painful canals, especially in teens who often use Q-tips. A dry ear canal is always itchy.
- Sometimes, bleeding or damage to the eardrum.
- Cotton swabs cause more than 10,000 ear injuries each year in the US. More than 2,000 are punctured ear drums. Never allow young children to play with cotton swabs.
Prevention of Blocked Ear Canals
- Never put cotton swabs (cotton buds or Q-tips) into the ear canal.
- Cotton swabs just push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Reason: Cotton swabs are usually wider than a child’s ear canal.
- Earwax doesn’t need any help getting out. You can’t hurry the process.
- Never try to dig out pieces of earwax with toothpicks, match sticks or other devices. Usually, doing this just pushes the wax back in.
- These objects can also scratch the ear canal and cause an infection.
- If all of the ear wax is removed (as with cotton swabs), the ear canals become itchy. They also become more prone to swimmer’s ear. This can occur in teens when cotton swabs are smaller than the ear canal.
- Limit the use of ear plugs.
When to Call for Earwax Buildup
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
- Ear pain or bleeding after object (such as cotton swab) was inserted into ear canal
- Ear pain after ear canal flushing to remove wax and it’s severe
- Walking is very unsteady
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Ear pain after ear canal flushing and it lasts more than 1 hour
- Pus (yellow or green discharge) from the ear canal
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
- History of ear drum perforation, tubes or ear surgery. Reason: don’t remove wax at home.
- Complete hearing loss in either ear
- Age less than 6 years with earwax problems
- Earwax problems not better after using Care Advice
- You don’t want to try to remove earwax at home
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
- Questions about earwax removal
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Care Advice for Earwax Buildup
- What You Should Know About Earwax Buildup:
- Earwax is good.
- In general, leave earwax alone.
- It will come out and fall away on its own.
- If you see some wax right at the opening, you can flick it away. Use something that won’t push it back in, such as a paper clip.
- Reasons to Flush out the Ear Canal:
- Earwax is completely blocking an ear canal and can’t hear on that side.
- If the hearing seems normal on that side, the blockage is only partial. You can leave it alone.
- Age 6 Years and Older – Ear Canal Flushing with Water:
- Under age 6, use only if advised by your child’s doctor.
- Buy a soft rubber ear syringe or bulb from the pharmacy. No prescription is needed.
- Have your child lean over the sink. Reason: To catch the water.
- Use lukewarm water (body temperature). Reason: To prevent dizziness.
- Gently squirt the water into the ear canal. Then tilt your child’s head and let the water run out. You may need to do this several (3-4) times.
- If the earwax does not seem to be coming out, tilt the head. Then, flush it with the head tilted. Have the ear with the wax in it facing downward. Gravity will help the water wash it out (the waterfall effect).
- Endpoint: Flush until the water that comes out is clear of wax. Also, the ear canal should be open when you look in with a light.
- Afterwards dry the ear thoroughly. You can do this by putting a drop of rubbing alcohol in the ear canal. Or you can set a hair dryer on low. Hold it a foot away from the ear for 10 seconds.
- Caution – Ear Canal Flushing:
- Do not perform flushing if your child has a hole in the eardrum or ear tubes.
- Stop flushing if it causes pain or dizziness.
- Do not use a water jet tooth cleaner (such as a WaterPik) for ear flushing. Reason: The force of the jet can cause pain.
- Ear Drops – Use for 4 Days to Soften the Earwax:
- If the earwax is hard, soften it before flushing the ear canal. Use ear drops to break up the earwax.
- Homemade ear drops: 15% baking soda solution. Make it by adding ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) of baking soda to 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of water.
- Other option for homemade ear drops: hydrogen peroxide and water solution. Mix equal parts of each.
- Drug store option: Earwax removal ear drops (such as Debrox). No prescription is needed.
- Use 5 drops in affected ear, 2 times daily, for 4 days.
- How to Put in Ear Drops:
- Lie on the side with blocked ear upward.
- Place 5 drops into ear canal.
- Keep drops in ear for 10 minutes by continuing to lie down.
- Then lie with the blocked side down. Let the ear drops run out onto some tissue.
- Use twice daily for up to four days.
- Then flushing should be able to get everything out.
- Cautions for Ear Drops:
- Do not use ear drops if your child has a hole in the eardrum. Also do not use them for children with ear tubes.
- Stop using ear drops if pain occurs.
- Earwax Removal Before 6 Years Old:
- Earwax removal in this age group can be hard.
- Removal may not be needed. The ear wax should come out on its own. Don’t use cotton swabs.
- Do not use eardrops or ear flushes unless it is advised by your child’s doctor. This also can be done in your doctor’s office.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Flushing out the ear canal doesn’t return the hearing to normal
- Earache occurs
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.
Last Reviewed: 10/19/2021
Last Revised: 09/30/2021
Copyright 2000-2021. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.
Impacted earwax is a buildup of the natural wax in the ear. Impacted earwax is very common. It can cause symptoms such as hearing loss. It can also make it hard for a healthcare provider to check your ear.
Tiny glands in your ear make substances that combine with dead skin cells to form earwax. Earwax helps protect your ear canal from water, dirt, infection, and injury. Over time, earwax travels from the inner part of your ear canal to the entrance of the canal. Then it falls away naturally. But in some cases, it can’t travel to the entrance of the canal. This may be because of a health condition or objects put in the ear. With age, earwax tends to become harder and less fluid. Older adults are more likely to have problems with earwax buildup.
What causes impacted earwax?
Earwax can build up because of many health conditions. Some cause a physical blockage. Others cause too much earwax to be made. Health conditions that can cause earwax buildup include:
Bony blockage in the ear (osteoma or exostoses)
Infections, such as an outer ear infection (external otitis)
Skin disease, such as eczema
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
A narrowed ear canal from birth, chronic inflammation, or injury
Too much earwax because of injury
Too much earwax because of water in the ear canal
Putting objects in the ear again and again can also cause impacted earwax. For example, putting cotton swabs in the ear may push the wax deeper into the ear. Over time, this may cause blockage. Hearing aids, swimming plugs, and swim molds can also cause this problem when used again and again.
In some cases, the cause of impacted earwax is not known.
Symptoms of impacted earwax
Excess earwax often does not cause any symptoms, unless there is a large amount of buildup. Then it may cause symptoms such as:
Sense of ear fullness
Itching in the ear
Odor from the ear
Ringing in the ears
Treatment for impacted earwax
If you don’t have symptoms, you may not need treatment. Often the earwax goes away on its own with time. If you have symptoms, you may have 1 or more treatments such as:
Ear drops to soften the earwax. This helps it leave the ear over time.
Rinsing the ear canal with water. This is done in a healthcare provider’s office.
Removing the earwax with small tools. This is also done in a provider’s office.
In rare cases, some treatments for earwax removal may cause complications such as:
Talk with your healthcare provider about which risks apply most to you.
Healthcare providers don’t advise using ear candles or ear vacuum kits. These methods are not shown to work and may cause problems.
Preventing impacted earwax
You may not be able to prevent impacted earwax if you have a health condition that causes it, such as eczema. In other cases, you may be able to prevent earwax buildup by:
Using ear drops once a week
Having a regular ear cleaning about every 6 months
Not using cotton swabs in the ear
When to call the healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:
Symptoms of impacted earwax
Severe symptoms after earwax removal, such as bleeding or severe ear pain
Can Digging in Your Ears Cause Tinnitus or Damage?
A lot of people are guilty of digging around in their ears from time to time. You probably do this yourself, and there are a few reasons that this becomes a habit. The main one is that you dig around with a cotton bud to try and remove earwax and to clean your ears. But, you could also use a little finger or something else to scratch an itch as well.
Regardless, you should be cautious about sticking anything in your ear. If you talk to an audiologist, they’ll warn you against this as it’s common for individuals to damage parts of their ear and potentially trigger tinnitus. How does this happen? Well, allow us to explain:
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that brings about a series of symptoms, the most common of which is a persistent ringing, clicking, or buzzing sound in your ears. No matter where you are, this sound stays with you at all times. It’s incredibly irritating and can cause a great deal of stress.
Sometimes, tinnitus is a symptom of a greater issue – like hearing loss. In scenarios like this, it will be a permanent issue for you to deal with. However, tinnitus can also be a temporary symptom that you can get rid of by dealing with the underlying issue.
How does digging in your ears cause tinnitus?
The main problem with digging in your ears – especially with something like a cotton bud – is that you do more harm than good. Any audiologist will tell you that cotton buds are not the way to clean your ears and remove earwax! It may look like you’re doing a good job as there’s wax on the buds, but what’s really happening?
Effectively, you’re pushing the wax deeper into your ear canal. You’re just rubbing a bit on the surface of the cotton bud, then pushing the rest further in. This is an issue as it can cause the wax to become impacted deep within the canal.
As a consequence, impacted earwax doesn’t get removed from the ears and begins to harden. This causes a blockage in the canal, which can lead to temporary hearing loss. Therefore, it’s possible to experience the symptoms of tinnitus because you have hearing loss.
But, digging deep into your ears can also cause issues with your eardrum. This is an essential component of the ear, and it can very easily be perforated. In essence, this means that the eardrum tears a little bit. It can lead to intense pain, hearing loss and tinnitus. Sticking something deep into your ear canal means it’s highly possible to come into contact with your eardrum and perforate it. Likewise, you can push earwax so deep into your ear that it irritates the eardrum and may cause perforation or tinnitus.
Can digging in your ear cause damage?
Digging in your ears can easily cause damage to your eardrum, as mentioned above. As a result, you will have some hearing problems as your eardrum repairs itself. That’s a key point to make; your eardrums can repair and heal over time. So, the damage doesn’t have to be permanent.
Problems arise when you continue to dig around in your ears even after you’ve suffered from a perforated eardrum.
How do you stop digging in your ears?
If we refer back to the start of this article, you’ll remember the main reasons for digging in your ears are to clean them or scratch an itch. Never insert anything in your ears that’s smaller than your elbow – this is a classic audiologist saying!
Your ears need earwax to filter out any dirt, grime and bacteria. So, you shouldn’t look to get rid of it all the time. Typically, your ears will naturally remove it without you needing to do anything. You could maybe wipe the outside of your ears with a tissue if you have visible earwax. Other than that, if you get impacted earwax, then get professional earwax removal from an audiologist.
Funnily enough, itchiness in your ears is usually caused by earwax or infections. So, perhaps you need some earwax removal to get rid of this itch or get treatment for an infection.
We offer professional earwax removal and tinnitus treatment
Have you been guilty of digging around in your ears too often? If you struggle with impacted earwax and tinnitus, then we can help you out. Affordable Audiology & Hearing Service provides safe earwax removal and fast-acting tinnitus treatments. Feel free to call us at 920-232-4752 to learn more about our services and how we can help you.
Earwax Removal Chestnut Hill | Ear Cleaning Boston
What is Cerumen?
Cerumen, also known as earwax, is a natural substance produced by glands in the ear canal to protect the eardrum from damage and infections. Earwax accumulates naturally, and then dries up and falls out of the ear canal. It functions to rid the ear of dust or sand particles, and repel water, which may contain bacteria and can cause infections. Without earwax, ears would be dry, itchy and unprotected. Earwax is made up of various different materials, and may be soft and almost liquid, or firm and solid. It is composed of dead skin cells, bacteria, sweat, oil and water. The production and clearing of earwax is natural and self-regulating so, under ordinary circumstances, the vast majority of people need never clean their ears.
Causes of Earwax Impaction
Earwax impaction (blockage) occurs when earwax gets pushed deep within the ear canal. Although for most people this is an uncommon occurrence, it is one of the most frequent ear problems treated by physicians, and is a recurring problem for about 6 percent of the population. Everyone makes earwax, but the amount and type are genetically determined. Reasons for an excessive accumulation of earwax include:
- Small or oddly shaped ear canals, which make drainage more difficult
- Ear canals narrowed by infection
- Genetic predisposition to the production of more, or more solid, wax
Frequent use of hearing aids or earplugs may block drainage and cause an accumulation of ear wax.
Symptoms of Earwax Blockage
There are many symptoms of earwax impaction. They may include:
- Decreased hearing
- Drainage from the ear canal
- Ear pain
- Itching in the ear canal
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensation that the ear is full or plugged
When any of these symptoms is present, a physician should be consulted.
How to Remove Earwax
Many people attempt to clean out earwax with Q-tips, bobby pins or other small objects, but doing so is one of the most frequent causes of earwax impaction. This is because the objects used may remove small amounts of wax, but push the rest further into the ear canal or, in some cases, puncture the eardrum.
For people troubled by earwax, a few drops of mineral oil weekly, an over-the-counter preparation for ear wax removal, or prescribed ear drops, may be helpful. If there is an extreme buildup of wax in the ear canal, a doctor should be consulted. Dr. David Vernick and Dr. Harsha Gopal perform professional cleanings (lavages), and can safely assist with earwax removal.
If you are looking for highly-qualified ENT Doctors in Chestnut Hill to assist with your health needs,
Contact us online or Call (617) 383-6800 today!
Ear Wax Removal – Mile High Otolaryngology
Earwax (cerumen) is a yellowish waxy substance produced by healthy ears. Earwax protects the ear from bacteria, water and foreign particles. It also assists in the cleaning and lubrication of the ear canal. Usually, excess wax is removed from the ear canal naturally. If a buildup does occur, the earwax will become hard and block the ear.
A blockage of earwax is usually caused by an overproduction of earwax or insufficient cleaning. Surprisingly, the most common cause of a blockage is incorrect at-home earwax removal. Often, instead of cleaning out the earwax it is just pushed deeper inside the ear. Earphone usage can also cause wax buildup, as the earphones can prevent earwax from naturally coming out of the ear canal.
Earaches, a feeling of fullness in the ear, hearing loss and ringing in the ear (tinnitus) are all common signs of earwax blockage. If the earwax is not removed an infection can develop. This would include severe pain in the ear that does not subside and a fever. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor, as these may also be signs of a more serious condition.
In order to diagnose a buildup of earwax, your doctor will need to look in your ear with a special magnifying instrument called an otoscope. Once diagnosed, your doctor can remove the wax buildup a few ways: with a small curved instrument called a curet, through suction or by flushing out the wax using a water pick or warm water. If this continues to be a problem, wax-removal medications may be recommended.
As long as your ear is healthy and does not have tube or a hole in it, at-home treatments can be helpful to manage earwax buildup. An eyedropper can be used to apply a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal; this is done to soften the wax. Once soft, after an hour or a few days, the wax is ready to be removed. A rubber-bulb syringe can be used to gently squirt warm water into the ear canal. Once the water has drained out of the ear, the ear should be dried with a towel. This procedure can be repeated several times until the wax has been removed.
Call Mile High Otolaryngology at (303) 487-0834 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
90,000 Earwax Riddles: Why Do We Need It?
- Jason Goldman
- BBC Future
Photo author, Getty
The sulfur that comes out in our ears is a weird thing. Why is it, what does it consist of? And is it true that it is needed in order to kill parasites? Browser
BBC Future is looking for answers to these questions.
Whales never clean their ears. Year after year, sulfur is collected there, by which you can read the whole story of their life, told in the language of fatty acids, alcohols and cholesterol.
A similar substance accumulates in the auditory canals of many mammals, including humans.
True, our earwax is not that interesting. It will not work to write a biography of a person on it, because most of us regularly clean our ears (we will talk about this later).
However, there is high science behind this base substance.
Earwax is produced only in the outer part of the ear canal, where from one to two thousand sebaceous glands are located (by the way, the same glands on the head provide natural lubrication of the hair) and modified sweat glands.
Add hairs, dead skin cells and other waste products of the body to the resulting secret – and the earwax is ready.
For a long time it was believed that this substance serves primarily as a lubricant (at first it was even used in the manufacture of lip balms).
In addition, it has been claimed to prevent insects from entering the human head through the ear canal.
And some even believe that earwax is, among other things, an antibiotic.
Photo author, Getty
Some have moist and oily sulfur, and some have drier and harder they called it “a sterile earwax trap” and took samples of the substance from 12 people and mixed them in an alcoholic solution.
Bacteria were then added to the resulting medium. It was found that the solution kills 99% of bacteria of some strains, including H.influenzae (which, oddly enough, does not cause influenza) and one of the E. coli strains called K-12.
Other strains of E. coli, as well as streptococci and staphylococci, were found to be more tenacious – the death rate of these bacteria under the influence of earwax ranged from 30% to 80%.
But it is clear that earwax had a bactericidal effect on all 10 species of bacteria in the study.
Similar results were obtained in 2011 in Germany.Scientists have found that earwax contains ten peptides that can prevent the development of bacteria and fungus.
According to the researchers, infections in the outer part of the ear canal occur precisely due to a malfunction in the defense mechanism, the functioning of which depends on earwax.
However, a study conducted in 2000 at the University of La Laguna in the Canary Islands (Spain) gave completely opposite results.
According to the observations of scientists, earwax had practically no effect on staphylococci, and in most cases it did contribute to the multiplication of bacteria, including E. coli, apparently creating a rich nutrient medium for them.
This is not the only study to question the antimicrobial properties of earwax.
One detail helps to shed light on the reason for such significant discrepancies in the conclusions made by scientists in the framework of this and other studies.
Experiments conducted in 1980 and 2011 used dry earwax, while in 2000, scientists chose the wet form for testing.
It is unclear whether this difference actually affects the antimicrobial properties attributed to earwax, but the hypothesis seems tempting, especially since both types of sulfur are essentially composed of the same ingredients.
However, if you haven’t looked into your friends’ ears to see what their sulfur looks like, you will probably be no less surprised than mine to learn that there are really two types of sulfur. To be so frank, to be so frank – my sulfur is wet.
Photo author, Science Photo Library
Washing the ears with a syringe removes excess wax without the risk of damaging the tympanic membrane
The type of earwax is genetically determined and is reduced to a difference in one single letter in a single gene – ABCC11.
If at the beginning of the name of this gene is A, a person has dry sulfur, if G is wet (by the way, the smell of these two types is different).
With the help of earwax, scientists even tried to determine the direction of migration of the population in antiquity.
In descendants of Europeans and Africans, sulfur is most often wet, while in East Asians it is usually dry and scaly.
The Pacific Islands, Central Asia Minor, and Native American and Inuit populations show a more even distribution of the two types.
However, for most of us, the most pressing problem with earwax is how to remove it.
Apparently, this issue has been on the agenda at least since the 1st century AD. NS.
In his treatise De Medicina (“On Medicine”), the Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus proposes a number of methods for removing sulfur accumulated in the ear canals.
“If this is a crust,” he writes, apparently referring to dry sulfur, “heated vegetable oil is poured inside, mixed either with yar-copperhead in honey or with leek juice, or with a small amount of soda dissolved in honey wine “. Wow!
Once the wax has been loosened, it can be washed out of the ear with water. But “if it is dirt” – which apparently means a wet type of earwax – “vinegar is injected with a little baking soda, and when the dirt softens, the ear is washed.”
In addition, Celsus advises “to rinse the ear with a beaver stream mixed with vinegar, laurel oil and juice from the skin of young radishes or juice of a wild cucumber with the addition of crushed rose leaves. Instilling the juice of unripe grapes with rose oil also gives good results for deafness.”
This recommendation sounds more like a recipe for a witch’s potion than a quote from a scientific treatise, but doctors still use almond or olive oil to soften the cork before trying to remove it.
I must say that for some people the problem of sulfur congestion is really so acute that medical intervention is required to solve it.
Photo author, Getty
Doctors still use olive oil to loosen sulfur plugs
According to an analysis carried out in 2004, about 2. 3 million people in the UK see a doctor with this problem every year and about 4 million ears are processed.
Most often, sulfur plugs form in older people, children and people with learning disabilities.
Of course, this problem can lead to hearing loss, but also social isolation and even mild paranoia.
“Some patients with cerumen congestion,” the scientists write, “also show a perforation of the eardrum.”
However, since earwax alone cannot damage the auditory membrane, it suggests that patients are self-inflicting this injury – perhaps by trying to remove the earwax themselves.
Since it is risky to use cotton swabs to remove the plugs – even for qualified doctors, in most cases some emollient is used, followed by rinsing the ear.
However, physicians differ on the optimal emollient and the benefits of rinsing as such.
In 2012, researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine (USA) Anjali Vaidya and Diana Jay Madlon-Kay concluded that the use of earwax softeners, ear washing and other methods of manual removal of wax plugs, although they have the right to existence, but none of these methods are guaranteed to be more correct, safe, or effective than others.
Nevertheless, it is better to entrust this procedure to specialists. Despite all the attendant risks, some people, after taking a shower, boldly poke a cotton swab into their ears, knowing full well that doctors do not recommend doing this.
Excessive exposure can lead to perforation of the tympanic membrane or, paradoxically, to the penetration of sulfur even deeper into the ear canal.
Moreover, sometimes cotton wool falls off the stick and remains in the ear canal as a foreign body.
In general, the main thing to remember is: do not use ear sticks! Or, at the very least, don’t stick them deep into your ear canal.
Another alternative medicine that should be avoided like fire is candling the ears.
This method consists of taking a hollow wax or paraffin candle, holding it to your ear and lighting the opposite end.
It is believed that the heat inside an empty candle pulls the earwax out of the ear canal and can then be easily removed.
If this idea sounds crazy to you, you are absolutely right. It is not substantiated by anything.
In addition, there are many known cases of molten wax getting on the eardrum, which is very painful and dangerous. So consider that we have warned you.
How to remove sulfur plug from the ear of a child and an adult. Doctor’s actions
How to remove a wax plug from a child’s and adult’s ear
Partial hearing loss, a feeling of congestion in the ear, and itching in the ear canal may indicate the presence of a wax plug.In itself, this condition does not pose a danger, but the problem must be solved. Removal of the ear wax plug can be done in the ENT doctor’s office or on your own at home.
Symptoms of a wax plug in the ear
The first sign of a cerumen plug is water retention in the ear canal. If it is passable, then the water should flow freely, and the sulfur plug prevents this – even taking a shower ends with long attempts to remove water from the ear.Sulfur plug can be seen with the naked eye – it looks like a small lump of gray-yellow mass located on the wall of the ear canal. The following symptoms of cerumen plug in the ear are distinguished:
- severe itching;
- Partial hearing loss – there are complaints of a feeling of congestion in the ear, the sound does not pass in full and seems muffled;
- unpleasant sensations of pressure and the presence of a foreign body.
Knowing how to remove the cerumen plug from the ear of a child and an adult, the procedure can be performed independently.This is dangerous when the plug is located close to the eardrum – if you move it carelessly, it can be damaged, and then hearing loss will occur, up to its complete loss. Therefore, it is preferable to see a doctor.
Methods for removing the sulfur plug
At home, it is easiest to use a solution of hydrogen peroxide, which will soften the sulfur plug. If the procedure is to be carried out by the child, then during it he must follow all the instructions of the parents.
How to get rid of sulfur plug using hydrogen peroxide:
- you need to lie on your side so that the problem ear is in the access zone;
- 3-5 drops of a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide are instilled into it;
- stay in this position should be 10-15 minutes;
- If necessary, repeat the procedure for the other ear.
If the sulfur plug has a soft consistency and small size, then within 8-10 hours it should dissolve and come out of the ear. The first signs of a positive effect from the procedure will be an improvement in hearing, a decrease in the intensity of itching, and the leakage of gray-yellow fluid from the ear.
Hydrogen peroxide to remove earwax plugs can be used for several days in a row until the plug is completely removed. But if after the first procedure no improvement occurs, then you should contact a specialist.
Another option for self-removal of sulfur plugs from the ears is the use of special medications. They have the ability to quickly dissolve even dry sulfur formations, which contributes to their release 4-6 hours after the procedure. Drops from sulfur plugs for adults can be used without first visiting a specialist, but in case of a problem with a child, you will need to contact an ENT doctor.
As for methods of solving the problem in a hospital setting, ear washing is most often used here.How to rinse the ear from the cerumen and at the same time not damage the eardrum? It is necessary to first soften the sulfur lump with the help of hydrogen peroxide, and then from Janet’s syringe direct a stream of warm water along the wall of the external auditory canal – the cork will come out together with the water poured out of the auditory canal. This procedure seems simple only at first glance! You should not carry it out at home, especially for a child – water can push the sulfur plug deep into the ear canal or injure the eardrum.
On the pages of our website Dobrobut.com you will find information on how to remove sulfur plug from the ear at home. If necessary, you can immediately make an appointment with a doctor.
Doctors strongly advise against trying to remove the plug with ear cotton swabs – during this procedure, you can push the accumulated wax deep into the ear canal, closer to the eardrum. If the skin is damaged, infection and the development of an inflammatory process are possible, and then it will be necessary to undergo a course of treatment in a hospital, and in complicated cases, resort to surgical intervention.
Consultation with an otolaryngologist
What you need to know about earwax
26 August 2016
The outer ear of each person consists of an auricle and an external auditory canal, covered inside with cutaneous epithelium, the sulfur and sebaceous glands of which produce a substance called sulfur.
Sulfur is nothing more than dead cells of the skin epithelium itself, as well as particles of the dust surrounding us.Many people believe that ear wax should be disposed of immediately. But this is far from the case. The presence of sulfur helps to perform several important functions: a protective one, helping to prevent the penetration of pathogens, moisturizing, preventing the epithelium of the external auditory canal from drying out, and a barrier, which creates a real protection against foreign bodies entering our ear.
Few people know about the unique ability of our ear to cleanse itself.It turns out that with daily active movements of the lower jaw, for example, when chewing food, talking or laughing, the sulfur in the area of the auditory canal begins to move outward. It is necessary to take into account this feature when cleaning the ear canal by deep insertion of a cotton swab. There is no such need. If you use cotton swabs when cleaning your ears, remember that you are not so much removing some of the wax as moving it to the eardrum, creating a significant seal, and can also lead to various injuries (damage to the eardrum, etc.).), otitis media, the cause of which is careless cleaning of the ear canal with cotton swabs.
When we begin to actively clean our ears, we, thereby, cause additional production of sulfur, leading to the release of sulfur in a larger volume or, conversely, in a smaller one. As a rule, when the volume of sulfur decreases, dry and itchy ears are observed. With an excess of sulfur, a sulfur plug forms in the ear canal, which, when pressed on the eardrum, leads to various types of ear inflammation.When moisture enters the auditory canal, where the sulfur plug has formed, it gradually swells and closes the auditory canal, which leads not only to constant congestion, noise, but hearing loss. Do not try to remove the sulfur plug yourself!
The best way to hygiene our ears is to gently hygienic cleaning of the auricle and the area around the entrance to the external auditory canal when washing or showering every day.
90,000 If water gets into a dog’s ear – what to do?
Every owner knows that if a dog suddenly starts shaking its head strongly, this means that, most likely, there is water in its ear that got there during bathing.In most cases, animals manage to get rid of the fluid accumulated in the auricles on their own. If the pet is unable to do this, the owner’s task is to help his pet in order to prevent him from developing serious diseases, such as otitis media, deterioration of hearing function and even complete hearing loss.
Examining the Dog’s Ears – Procedure Required
The dog’s ears should be examined every day. This is done like this: the pet should carefully raise and straighten the ear, examine it for foreign bodies, scratches, insect bites.The following points should be alerted:
Discoloration of the skin inside the ear.
Allocation of exudate, pus.
The formation of a black liquid in the shells, homogeneous or in the form of grains – this indicates that an ear mite has wound up.
The appearance of an unpleasant odor. Healthy ears don’t smell.
Combing to bloody wounds.
Immediately take the animal to the veterinarian if the ear becomes red or hot, and the dog does not allow the owner to inspect it.
It is possible to solve ear problems on your own, if we are talking about a sulfuric plug or water that has got into the ear. Wax is removed with special ear discs, water – with ordinary cotton wool. To clean your ears, it is strictly forbidden to use brilliant green, any oil, alcohol solutions, hydrogen peroxide.
What to do if water gets into your dog’s ear
Every owner is worried about the questions: if water gets into the dog’s ear, what to do? how to give first aid to a pet?
The first step is to tilt the dog’s head to one side so that the auricle is the ear canal down. If your pet does not have a calm character, you can first fix its position with a diaper or blanket, depending on the size of the animal. Further, the tilted head should be gently shaken, allowing the cavity to quickly get rid of the accumulated liquid, and the water to come out.The pet, most likely, will not like such manipulations, so you need to talk to him in an affectionate tone, encourage him, and distract his attention to yourself.
If you are not sure that all the liquid has left the auricles, you can use a piece of cotton rolled into a tourniquet, wound on a wooden or plastic stick. The structure is placed in the auricle and rotated in the direction in which the cotton wool is wound around the stick. The procedure is carried out until the fluffy mass becomes completely dry.You need to act quickly and carefully so that the cotton wool does not unwind and get stuck in the ear canal. In this case, you will have to save the pet not only from water, but also from cotton wool. It is recommended to wrap the cotton wool on top with gauze so that the villi do not remain in the ear and do not provoke inflammation. Under no circumstances should the stick be pushed too deeply. If all attempts are unsuccessful, it is necessary to take the pet to the veterinarian.