Earwax Buildups Might Be Causing Your Loss of Hearing
Hearing loss can be both frightening and frustrating. However, did you know that it may be caused by something as simple as too much ear wax?
Both children and adults are prone to build-up of the wax or cerumen that occupies the ear canal. This narrow tube-like structure, comprised of bone and skin, leads to the ear drum. Keeping the canal free of dirt and germs, ear wax is important to healthy ears and hearing, but for people who are prone to too much of a good thing, excessive cerumen can cause:
- very muffled hearing
- ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- an uncomfortable full feeling in the ear or even pain
What causes earwax build-up?
Anything designed to help people's ears can actually cause accumulation of cerumen. Hearing aids and ear plugs, such as those used for swimming, block the natural exit of the ear canal where ear wax normally just falls out. In addition, use of cotton-tipped swabs to remove wax can push it toward the eardrum, resulting in impaction (a hardened blockage) and even perforation of the ear drum, a part of the body which is critical to good hearing.
What can be done about ear wax build-up?
People who have this problem repeatedly may treat the accumulation with over the counter ear drops:
- Lying on one side, the individual pulls the ear up and back and instills the drops.
- He or she waits for several minutes, allowing the drops to soften the wax.
- The individual flushes out the medication and wax with warm water.
For individuals who have stubborn and hardened ear wax, a trip to an experienced otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, throat doctor is in order. An ENT physician can visualize the ear canal with a lighted instrument called an otoscope. The doctor gently removes the impacted ear wax with a small spoon-like instrument called a curette, using suction, if necessary, and flushing with water.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology recommends that individuals who have recurring issues with ear wax visit an ENT doctor every 6 to 12 months for a check-up and cleaning of the ear canal as necessary. This routine will help avoid the hearing loss and other discomforts associated with ear wax build-up. In addition, anyone who is experiencing serious pain or dizziness associated with a drop in hearing should see a physician right away.
Dr. David Jassir in Hollywood, Florida
At South Florida ENT Associates, Dr. David Jassir skillfully treats a wide range of conditions affecting the ear, nose and throat, including allergies, sinus conditions, sleep apnea and swallowing problems. Call his office today for an appointment to discuss how to treat your ear wax: 954-966-7000.