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Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax (cerumen) is the combination of tiny hairs, skin flakes and oil, all of which are produced by the body in the ear canals.

A normal amount of ear wax is healthy. It protects and moisturizes the ear canal, traps dust and dirt, and protects the eardrum from germs that cause infection. For most people, wax naturally makes its way out of the ear. Problems occur when this natural movement out of the ear breaks down and wax builds up to block the ear canal. Ear wax is more likely to build up in individuals with small ear canals or a family history of wax build-up (genetics), a strong history of ear infection, or individuals who are Q-tip users. The migration of wax out of the ear may also slow as we age, leading to new problems with wax build-up as we get older.

Can ear wax affect my hearing?

Ear wax can affect hearing if it builds up until it is blocking the ear canal. If there is only a partial blockage of the ear canal, hearing loss is unlikely. However, a total blockage or ear wax pressed up against the eardrum can cause a mild to moderate conductive hearing loss. For someone with a conductive hearing loss due to wax, simply removing the wax should restore their hearing back to normal.

Ear wax can also increase the risk of external ear infection (“Swimmer’s ear”) if it is making it hard for water to drain from the ear canal. Feeling like you cannot get water out of your ears after swimming or showering may be an indication of wax build-up.

Earwax Blockage chart
Ear wax softening drops treatment

What can you do to treat ear wax?

Wax softening drops can be purchased at our clinic or at your local drug store. Follow the instructions in the box; it can be useful to have a helper put the drops in your ears while you are laying down to make sure the drops are getting all the way into your ear canal. Drops should not be used if there is a perforation (hole) in the eardrum. Use of drops should be discontinued if they cause any discomfort.

Many people try to use cotton swabs (Q-tips) to remove wax, but these usually just end up pushing wax further into the ear. Cotton swabs also remove natural oils from your skin, which can lead to itching or infection.

What your medical professional can do?

If wax softening drops don’t work then there are other options. Our clinicians can safely and gently remove ear wax, usually in one appointment. Depending on the consistency and depth of the ear wax, it can be flushed, cureted, or suctioned from the ear canal.

Book Your Hearing Health Check Appointment

Book your appointment online, by calling 1-833-669-4425 for more appointment options and availability or by texting 226-220-7982

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