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 from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage.
Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include:
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Decreased hearing
- Feeling of ear fullness
If a blockage occurs, it may need to be removed. This can be done at home or at your hearing care professional’s office, depending on the size and severity of the blockage.
At-home earwax removal
In some instances, your physician may send patients home with an at-home earwax removal kit. Earwax removal kits can also be purchased over the counter in most drug stores. Ask your audiologist about these options.
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.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can compact wax further or puncture your eardrum.
Removal at your hearing provider’s office
If the earwax blockage is more significant, it may need to be removed at your hearing care professional’s office. Hearing specialists typically use one of two methods to remove earwax: irrigation or curettage.
The common method used at Hearing & Speech Associates is curettage which involves the use of a curette. A curette is a long, curved tool that may be used to remove cerumen from the ear canal.