Despite being unsightly to touch and look at, earwax plays an imperative role in the health and well-being of your ear’s canals. It serves as a sanitary cleaning agent, preventing dirt and detritus from entering your ear and halting the development of dangerous bacteria. Earwax development is typically self-regulating, and it will travel out of your ear without you even knowing, but sometimes your body doesn’t work as it should. When earwax starts to develop prodigiously, it can cause blockage that can have a serious impact on your health and hearing. When the situation becomes serious, you may need to enlist the services of a qualified ENT to remedy the problem.
The Negative Effects of Earwax
Left unattended, earwax growth can get out of control, but you shouldn’t start to worry until you’ve started to notice meaningful symptoms. Being aware of your body and understanding the risks can help you recognize when you may have a problem, and vigilance can help a negative issue from spiraling out of control.
The most common and prominent problem is loss of hearing. As earwax builds up, it blocks sound waves entering your ear, reducing your hearing. But since the development of earwax is slow, the process is often progressive, and it may be hard to judge hearing loss until it becomes serious. Fortunately, this hearing loss isn’t permanent and can be resolved with a good cleaning.
More serious is the damage that can be caused by impacted earwax. As wax develops, it hardens and fuses together. In serious cases, this can create a blockage that applies pressure to your eardrum. You may feel pain, a fullness in your ear, or the sensation of a plug being placed in your inner ear. Tinnitus is also a common symptom of too much earwax.
How to Clean Earwax Yourself
The inner workings of your ears are sensitive, and being too aggressive with your approach to management can cause serious and irreversible damage. If you’re worried about the accumulation of wax, the most effective remedy is to soften it and let the wax fall out on its own. Mineral oil, baby oil, and glycerin can be effective solutions, but you’ll need to be careful with their application to avoid any unnecessary damage. You should never use q-tips or cotton swabs to try to resolve the problem, as this can push the wax further into your ear, compacting it together and increasing the risk of physical damage to your eardrum.
When to See an ENT
If natural or over the counter remedies don’t work, you should contact your ENT. The damage you can cause to your ear is not worth more than the cost of a medical visit, and a qualified ENT can provide you with a reasonable plan of action to resolve the problem. This often involves irrigation of the wax or prescription ear drops depending on the severity and nature of your problem. If you’re looking for a quality ENT in your area, Commonwealth ENT Associates is ready to assist.