Ear wax protects the ear from damage and infections. But when it builds up too much, it can cause pain, dizziness or problems hearing clearly. Ear wax blockages are common, especially for people who use cotton swabs or hearing aids. Our practitioners can assess your ear and use safe methods to remove excess wax.
Patients with the following may be directed to another health care provider:
Ear wax (cerumen) serves an essential function in the body. It works as a natural cleanser that removes dead skin cells, dirt, hair, and other debris from the ear canal. It’s a blend of fatty secretions from the sebaceous and sweat glands in the walls of the outer ear canal. Movement of the jaw from chewing or speaking helps to propel the secretions through the ear canal out to the ear opening, where they dry up and flake off.
Ear wax has antibacterial and antifungal properties that protect the ear canal from pathogens. It also helps to minimize the irritation caused when water enters the ear canal, such as when you’re swimming. When the ears do not have enough ear wax, they’re more likely to feel irritated and itchy.
Sometimes the body overproduces ear wax causing it to build up and eventually block the ear canal. The medical term for the blockage is cerumen impaction. Blockages are common for people who use hearing aids. Blockages can also occur if a person cleans their ears using cotton swabs. This can drive the ear wax deeper into the ear canal.
You might not experience any symptoms. However, ear wax blockage might cause:
To remove ear wax, a Dragonfly Health provider uses a specialized medical instrument called an otoscope. This instrument lights and magnifies the ear canal and can show a wax blockage.
If excess ear wax is the problem, your provider can clear the blockage. They may also flush out the ear using sterile, warm water.