The ears may often produce a waxy substance known as cerumen or earwax. This wax serves to protect the ear from dust and any foreign particles, as well as harmful bacteria. It also serves to protect the ear canal skin from skin irritation. Normally excess wax may exit out of the ear opening naturally where it is washed away.
When your ears produce more earwax than normal, the excess cerumen may get hard and may cause blockage to the ear. Wax buildup is actually a common reason for temporary hearing loss.
Earwax blockage is usually caused by using Q-tips and other objects in the ear canal, which further pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal. People who use hearing aids and earplugs are also prone to earwax blockage.
Earwax has many types, which may include the following:
- Classic wet (On Q-tip)
- Tarry (in Ear Canal)
- Firm Nuggets (On paper)
- Dry flakes (Within the ear canal)
- Dry, cornflakes (On paper)
Symptoms of an earwax impaction include:
- Decreased hearing
- Ear pain
- Plugged or fullness sensation
- Ringing in the ear
- Itching or drainage from the ear canal
Your doctor will examine your ears with an otoscope, to see whether there is ear wax buildup or not.
Don’t attempt to remove earwax buildup yourself. This can create damage to your ear which will further lead to hearing loss or ear infection.
You can buy over-the-counter eardrops that contain mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, baby oil, and glycerine.
Ear irrigation may also be done but is not for those with ear injuries or those who had medical procedures done on the ear.