Ear wax – also known as cerumen – is a naturally occurring substance in the ear. Though it usually dries up or falls out of the ear on its own, ear wax can occasionally become impacted. This may occur due to an overproduction of ear wax or cerumen that has hardened and is too difficult to wash away. Often the condition occurs only in one ear; although it is possible for both ears to be affected. When a blockage occurs, it is best to visit an urgent care center to have the ear wax safely removed.
Did you know…
that ear wax is naturally produced by the outer ear canal to help prevent dirt and debris from agitating or injuring the eardrum? It also works to keep the ear canal dry and prevent bacteria from infecting it. In most cases, ear wax is self-cleaning, meaning it will begin to dry up and flake off as it moves out of the canal and into the ear opening.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I need to have ear wax removal?
There are several symptoms of ear wax blockage that could signal the need for medical attention. The most common symptom is difficulty hearing or sensation of fullness in the ears. You may also be experiencing earaches or ringing in your ears.
What should I expect during an office cerumen removal treatment?
There are several ways of safely treating an impacted ear. Your doctor may irrigate the ear and carefully suction out loosened wax. In some cases, it is necessary to remove wax using a specialized hand-held instrument.
Is there anything I can do to prevent ear wax from becoming impacted again?
It is natural for some people to produce more earwax than others. You may be able to prevent buildup by periodically irrigating the ear canal with warm water. However, any ear wax located inside the ear canal should be removed only by a healthcare provider. Never use cotton swabs to remove ear wax – it could cause injury or hearing damage. If earwax impaction is a recurring problem, your doctor may prescribe ear drops designed to prevent build-up.