While some may see it as a nuisance, earwax plays an essential role in our health. It helps trap dust and other particles, preventing them from potentially damaging our eardrums. Typically, ear wax dries up on its own and falls out of the ear, however in some causes it can cause blockage.
Although everyone makes ear wax, genetics play a role in determining the amount and type you produce. If you have small or oddly shaped ear canals, chances are it may be difficult for wax to easily exit the canal, leading to wax impactions. Impactions also frequently occur when individuals insert foreign objects into their ears (such as Q-tips, bobby pins, etc.). While these objects help remove superficial wax, they also push wax deeper into the ear canal. Lastly, folks who use hearing aids or earplugs are more likely to develop earwax blockage.
Common symptoms of earwax impaction are:
- Ear pain
- Decreased hearing
- Plugged or fullness sensation
- Rinigng in the ear
- Itching or drainage from the ear canal
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. A doctor can easily diagnose earwax blockage through assessing your symptoms and using an otoscope. If you are suffering from more severe symptoms, such as a spinning sensation, persistent vomiting, high fever, loss of balance, inability to walk or sudden loss of hearing, go to a hospital immediately.
Once diagnosed with earwax blockage, your doctor may recommend some at home remedies.
Ear candling is not recommended and can result in serious injury. To prevent future blockage, make sure to avoid the use of Q-tips and other objects that have the potential to push wax deeper into the ear canal.