Earwax blockage occurs when earwax (cerumen) builds up in your ear or becomes too hard to wash away naturally.
Earwax is a helpful and natural part of your body’s defenses. It cleans, coats, and protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria.
If earwax blockage becomes a problem, Dr. Guy and Becca can take simple steps to remove the wax safely.
Signs and symptoms of earwax blockage may include:
  • Earache
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Ringing or noises in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Cough
  • Itchiness in the ear
  • Odor or discharge in the ear
  • Pain or infection in the ear
When to see Dr. Guy
Earwax blockage that has no symptoms can sometimes clear on its own. However, if you have signs and symptoms of earwax blockage, call us to be evaluated.
Signs and symptoms may signal another condition. There’s no way to know if you have too much earwax without having someone look in your ears. Having signs and symptoms, such as earache or hearing loss, doesn’t always mean you have wax buildup. You may have another health condition that needs attention.
Wax removal is most safely done by a health care provider. Your ear canal and eardrum are delicate and can be damaged easily. Don’t try to remove earwax yourself by putting anything in your ear canal, such as a cotton swab, especially if you have had ear procedures, have a hole in your eardrum, or are having ear pain or drainage.
Wax production is natural and normal. The wax in your ears is made by glands in the skin of your outer ear canal. The wax and tiny hairs in these passages trap dust and other materials that could damage deeper parts of your ear, such as your eardrum.
In most people, a small amount of earwax regularly makes its way to the ear opening. At the opening, it’s washed away or falls out as new wax replaces it. If your ears make too much wax or if earwax isn’t cleared well enough, it may build up and block your ear canal.
Earwax blockages often happen when people try to get earwax out on their own by using cotton swabs or other items in their ears. This usually just pushes wax deeper into the ear, rather than removing it.
Your healthcare provider (Dr. Guy or ENT doctor) can see if you have earwax blockage by looking in your ear. We use a tool that lights and magnifies your inner ear (otoscope) to look in your ear.
We can remove excess wax by using a small, curved tool called a curet or by using other techniques — lavage or suction. Lavage refers to flushing out the wax with warm water and a soap product. Medicated ear drops may also be recommended to help soften the wax, such as carbamide peroxide (Debrox Earwax Removal Kit, Murine Ear Wax Removal System). Because these drops can irritate the delicate skin of the eardrum and ear canal, use them only as directed.
If earwax buildup continues, you may need to visit your healthcare provider (Dr. Guy or ENT doctor) once or twice a year for regular cleaning. Your health care provider may also recommend that you use earwax-softening agents such as saline, mineral oil, olive oil or Debrox. This helps loosen the wax so that it can leave the ear more easily.
As always, Dr. Guy is available to answer your questions at (707) 938-1255.
This information was taken from the Mayo Clinic; here is a link to their website.
Be well!