Ear health: how earwax protects your ears

earwax protects earsExcessively or incorrectly cleaning your ears can do more harm than good for your ear health. Earwax is a valuable asset for maintaining the self-cleaning properties of the ear canal. The delicate ear structures are prone to damage when individuals probe their ears with cotton applicators or other small tools.

If you are suffering from excess earwax buildup and need guidance, contact our doctoral-level audiologists today!

Here’s a deeper look at what earwax is and why it’s important:

Why the body produces earwax

Earwax is regularly produced to serve as a protective agent for the ear canal. The earwax coats the ear canals to protect them, fight off potential infections, and keep a healthy pH balance for the skin. If earwax is removed too often, the individual may experience dry, itchy ears that are prone to irritation when the delicate pH balance is disrupted.

Some people naturally produce an excessive amount of earwax or their earwax doesn’t come out on its own. These conditions may lead to wax buildup that can lead to further complications. Earwax buildups can cause hearing loss, added pressure on the eardrum, a feeling of fullness in the ear, tinnitus, itching, and in some cases vertigo. The use of cotton applicators and small instruments will push and impact the wax further into the ear, exacerbating the issue.

How to properly clean the ears

The outer ear can be easily cleaned with a warm washcloth. Gently wipe behind the ears and in the various folds throughout the outer ear. Avoid inserting any part of your finger or the washcloth into the ear canal.

The ears should ideally clean themselves. However, excessive wax production requires a more involved process to remedy the buildup.

Manual removal of the earwax by a physician or trained professional is an effective treatment of wax blockage. The removal process often requires use of a microscope or otoscope, miniature tools, and/or suction to remove excess earwax.

When should you contact a professional?

The hearing loss and uncomfortable sensation of excessive earwax can affect the quality of your professional, social, and personal life. If you are a hearing aid user, it may also negatively affect your hearing aid performance and the benefit you receive from your hearing devices.

Are you experiencing symptoms of excessive earwax production? Associated Audiologists has doctoral-level audiologists who can help. Contact us today to discuss your options and how we can treat or refer you for earwax buildup.