Tags

Earwax build-up and blockage: Symptoms and Causes

  • Posted on- Aug 27, 2015
  • 388 Views

Earwax build-up and blockage is an extremely bothersome condition, and can affect the hearing ability of a person. Earwax is an oily or waxy substance also known as cerumen. It is released into the ear for providing protection to the ear canal from any kind of damage from foreign bodies that enter the ear. When excessive earwax accumulates inside the ear, then it leads to the condition of earwax blockage. Other names given to this condition are ear impaction, cerumen impaction, etc.

Causes and symptoms of earwax blockage

The outer part of the ear canal consists of glands that produce cerumen or earwax. This wax along with the tiny hair follicles traps dust particles, allergens, micro organisms, water, and other such elements inside the ear canal. In other words, it stops them from entering further into the innermost part of the ear, where the delicate eardrum is located.

Normally, the wax tends to come out of the ear canal along with the trapped dirt, and falls off in the form of dry flakes. Most of the time, wrong techniques used for ear cleaning cause this kind of blockage. This happens when cotton swabs, pencils, fingers are used to remove earwax. This pushes the earwax further inside the canal, and it gets compressed against the eardrum. In some people, excess amount of earwax is produced, which takes more time to get eliminated from the ear. This extra wax formed hardens up in the ear canal, and blocks the ear.

The first indication of an earwax blockage is a sense of fullness and stuffiness inside the ear. This often leads to tinnitus or ringing in the ear. Ear pain and partial hearing loss are the other two common symptoms. The hearing problem may get aggravated with each passing day.

How to remove earwax effectively?

When the symptoms are mild to moderate, then earwax blockage can be treated at home only. For this purpose, you can use over-the-counter ear drops, or hydrogen peroxide, or baby oil. Tilt your head in such a way that the ear is pointed towards the ceiling. Take the liquid in a dropper and fill up the ear canal with it. Wait for about 10 minutes with your head in the tilted condition. Then straighten your head and cover your ear with a towel so that the applied liquid does not drip out of the ear. This way the earwax will get softened up. Now the wax needs to be drained out. For this, put a few drops of lukewarm water into the ear and tilt your head in the opposite direction in order to drain out the entire liquid from the ear. Finally dry up the ear with a soft towel or with the help of hair dryer. This is an effective method for removal of earwax build-up, but it has to be repeated several times before you can completely get rid of the blockage.

What to do when home remedy fails?

If this home remedy fails to provide relief, then you should consult an ENT doctor. There are several techniques that are used by ENT specialists for earwax removal. The simplest of them is the use of an earwax removal tool called curette. Irrigation is another popular method used for removing earwax. Here the wax is flushed out of the ear by directing a small stream of warm water into the ear canal with the help of a syringe. The technique of suctioning of ear canal is also highly beneficial in this regard.

Those who tend to get their ears blocked due to wax quite frequently should clean their ear every week. If you have any ear problem like a tear or hole in the eardrum or had any ear surgery in the past, then you should not make any attempt to clear the block on your own. This can lead to some kind of ear infections, which could be an indication of a more serious condition.