Cerumen is a natural, sticky, waxy substance secreted by glands in the outer portion of the ear canal. Cerumen, more commonly known as earwax, waterproofs the ear canal protecting the delicate canal skin from dirt and infection. There are two basic types of earwax: wet and dry. Earwax is necessary, but it can build up to a point of blocking the ear canal and causing hearing loss, infection or pain. When this happens, you may need to visit the doctor for wax removal.
There are a number of reasons that earwax may build up. First, some people simply produce too much. Second, some people have narrow or crooked ear canals and the wax can’t get out. The third and most common reason is the use of Q-tips. Cotton tipped swabs were neither designed nor intended for ear canal use. Instead of removing the wax, the swab can push it further into the canal, packing it in tight. This tight wax dries out and cannot migrate out the ear canal. In addition, swabs can scratch the delicate skin in the canal leading to infection. This is a common cause of “swimmer’s ear” in patients who do not swim.
Dr. Friedman will first diagnose the earwax impaction. Next, there are several ways for him to get the wax out. A syringe and warm water to flush out the wax is a common method used, also a curette or suction instrument can remove the wax build up. Most people tolerate this procedure well but some find it painful, if dry earwax has become impacted. Using earwax softening drops for several days makes the job easier and more tolerable. Some people require regular cleaning of their ears every six months.
Wax build up carries with it a number of side effects including:
Earwax rarely causes ear discharge or pain. In fact, you may not be aware that your ear is full of wax until you find it harder to hear or there is a waxy discharge. If an infection develops in the skin under the wax, your ear may feel itchy and sore.
It is not possible to reduce the amount of wax you produce but there are ways to stop it building up.
To find out more about our ear wax removal service, visit Dr. Friedman’s office locations at 7600 E Camelback Road, Suite #7, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251 and 903 N. Beeline Highway, Suite A, Payson, Arizona 85541, or book an appointment by calling 480-664-0125 today.