Ear Wax Blockage: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies
Normally ear wax blockage occurs as the cerumen or the ear wax gathers in the ear and gets solid or too tough to wash away.
Ear wax is natural substance in the ear which protects the ear. It has cleansing property to clean the ear, lubricate it and protect the ear canal by holding back the dirt to enter in the ear. It also resists the growth of any bacteria in the ear.
Do not waste a time and consult your doctor if you ever face a problem with your ear wax blockage. Get it removed safely by medical procedure in a simple way.
What Can Cause Ear Wax Blockage?
The ear wax is actually secreted by the gland present in the skin of the ear in the exterior part of the ear canal. The tiny hairs in this region and the wax both help in protecting the ear from the external dirt to enter the inner ear or the ear drum.
Many people experience repeated formation of this wax due to over secretion by skin glands. This wax has to be cleaned regularly but only under proper medical supervision. When ignored for a long time, the dirt and dust mixed with this wax causes growth of bacteria in the ear and hence causes ear infection.
Some people have habits of digging the ear by themselves for no reason. Some find a pleasure in doing that where as some people do it to get rid of any irritation in the ear. This pushes the ear wax deeper in to the ear canal and does not actually help in removing it out.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Wax Blockage
The signs and symptoms of ear wax blockage are:
- Pain in the ear
- A feeling of unwanted fullness in the ear
- Constant ringing noise in the ear
- Less hearing ability in the affected ear
Time to See a Doctor for Ear Wax Blockage
Talk to your doctor immediately if you have been noticing any such above symptoms in your ear.
Do not self assure yourself as you experience ear problems. The excessive secretion of wax in the ear canal may be due to many reasons and can be injurious to a greater extent if not handled correctly. The doctor can diagnose it correctly and determine the consequences or medical procedure.
Never ever try to remove the ear wax by yourself or with the help of any device. Ear is one of the most sensitive part of the body and holds the balance of the entire body. Do not risk it by compromising on the removal of wax by yourself. A medical professional can only use the right instrument and carry out the right surgery (if required). Especially for people who have past records of ear drainage or puncture etc… should be more careful while going for an ear wax removal procedure.
Also, get your kid's ear wax removed only under proper medical supervision.
How to Get Ready for the Doctor's Appointment for Ear Wax Blockage
An otolaryngologist or an ear specialist should be consulted for any problem related to ear. Go to the general physician or your family medical consultant initially and they will guide you according to the severity of the ear wax blockage. Prepare yourself a list of questions the doctor may as you during the consultation:
- Duration of the symptoms like difficulty in hearing or earache
- Presence of any ear drainage
- Past records of ear pain or difficulty in hearing
- Frequency of the symptoms
- Things Not to do During the Mean Time.
It is advised not to dig the affected ear with cotton swabs or any other such items. Some people use pen caps or hairpins to get rid of the irritation but that would increase the tension. Such things will only push the ear wax deeper to the ear canal and ultimately the medical procedure will be complicated.
Tests to Diagnose Ear Wax Blockage
Otoscope is usually used to detect the depth of ear wax blockage and to magnify the ear canal.
Treatment: How to Remove Ear Wax Blockage?
A curet is used to remove the extra wax from the ear by a medical practitioner. Suction is also used sometimes to diagnose the depth of the damaged area. The doctor can inspect it correctly and wash out the portion using a rubber bulb syringe or water pick filled with lukewarm water.
There are certain wax removal medicines for people who are repeatedly affected with this problem like carbamide peroxide (Debrox, Murine Ear wax Removal System). But these ear drop medicines should only be used as per doctor's prescription as it can irritate the delicate skin of the ear canal.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Ear Wax Blockage
The safe self-care methods to remove the ear wax are from the ear canal at home:
- Mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin or even eye drops could be used in the ear to soften the wax. Then soft cotton could be used to gently wipe out the melted wax from the ear.
- For harder wax, lukewarm water has to be injected in the ear after oiling it. It can be injected by any syringe and then the head has to be tilted in such a position so that the entire water may flow out from the ear.
- The ear should be wiped gently with a piece of cotton. Both the interior and exterior should be cleaned properly to dry the ear completely.
For repeated problems of the same time it is always advised to see the doctor. If you are facing this trouble frequently then it is time to visit the doctor and get a thorough check up of the ear. It is never wise to save on the medical procedure and risk the ear for a life time.
Certain ear wax removing kits are available in the medical store which is quite safe. Obviously these kits should be used as per the doctor's prescription, advice and proper guidance.
Ear wax sometimes becomes hardened. Never ever try to dig it out with sharp things like pen cap, paper clip, hair pin or cotton swab. The ear wax hence will be pushed deeper and damage the eardrum.
Alternative Medicines for Ear Wax Blockage
Some people use the ear candle formula to remove the ear wax from the ear. It is a procedure where a hollow candle is place in the ear and heated to bring out the excess ear wax along with it. The ear wax has a tendency to flow out from the vacuum due to the heat flame.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has considered this method to be unsafe for the ear and has declared it injurious to the ear.
The ear coning or thermal auricular therapy is used by some people. This is a procedure where a fabric tube coated with paraffin or bee wax is inserted in the ear with an objective to suck out the extra ear wax from the ear canal. FDA has warned the followings in this procedure:
- May cause burning to the ear or face or even both
- Bleeding from the ear
- Punctured eardrum
- Dripping wax injury.
FDA has repeated reports of side effects of such ear wax removal procedure and has strictly been advising people not to undertake any of them. For kids these are very dangerous procedures and may even cause permanent damage to the ear.
There is no therapeutic value of these methods as per the tests conducted by Health Canada (equivalent to the U.S.'s Department of Health and Human Services). This report has been published in the year 1996 in "The Laryngoscope".
Prevention of Ear Wax Blockage
To avoid repeated ear wax blockage problem, you have to stop to use cotton swabs or other silly equipments to dig the ear and forcibly push the ear wax deeper to the ear canal.
Complications for Ear Wax Blockage
The complications for ear wax blockage include:
- Punctured eardrum
- Infection in the middle ear
- Infection in the external ear called swimmer's ear
- Permanent loss of hearing ability due to acoustic trauma.