Cerumen, also known as earwax, is naturally produced by the glands in the ears to lubricate the ear canals and keep dust and debris from getting too far down in the ear canal. Cerumen typically clears itself from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage. Symptoms of a cerumen blockage include: earache, tinnitus (noise in the ear), hearing loss, ear pressure.
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems as cotton swabs may push the blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear. Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing your eardrum. Physicians generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.
If the earwax blockage is significant, it may need to be removed in your doctor's office. Our audiologists perform basic ear wax removal. For deeper or more difficult-to-remove cerumen, referral to our ENT physicians may be necessary. Our physicians and Physician Assistants may be able to see you for same day service but sometimes a separate appointment may be required.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you see your doctor as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax should bring you relief and may even improve your hearing depending on the amount of blockage in the ear canal.