Ear Wax in Tuscaloosa

What is Ear Wax?

Ear wax, also called cerumen, is a natural substance that occurs in the ear to protect the ear with antibacterial and lubricating properties. Without the presence of earwax, the ear would be itchy and dry. Ear wax also helps to clean the ear by moving dead skin cells away from the eardrum.

Ear wax is formed in the outer one-third of the ear canal. Because of this, patients should not try to clean their ears with cotton-tipped swabs, as this can cause earwax blockage against the eardrum. When ear wax builds up, it can block the ear canal, causing problems with hearing.

Ear Wax Buildup and Cleaning

The most common causes for earwax buildup are hearing aids, earplugs, and cotton-tipped swabs. It is recommended that patients clean the outer ears with a cloth. Mineral oil, baby oil, or glycerin drops in the ear canal can help soften wax. Detergent drops like hydrogen peroxide that are available in most pharmacies may also help.

Another option is irrigation of the ear using an over-the-counter ear irrigation kit. However, if these at-home treatment options do not help relieve your symptoms, you may need to visit Tuscaloosa ENT for a professional solution.

Ear Wax Treatments

For large buildups of ear wax, manual removal can be performed. One of our ENT physicians will use suction or small instruments to remove ear wax from the ear canal.  Patients who have a narrow ear canal, have a perforation in the eardrum or tubes, or have skin problems affecting the ear canal should only trust an experienced ENT doctor to perform this procedure. Patients who are prone to earwax buildup should schedule regular visits to their doctor every 6-12 months for a preventative ear cleaning.

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