Quick facts about the wax
Ear wax affects individuals of all ages: young, old, female, male, child, adult, deaf, or hearing. Sticking things in your ear doesn’t always work, and you can risk seriously damaging your ear drums, which are important in hearing.
We have professional ear cleaning specialists available. Our ENT physicians use specialized equipment, and are available on a walk-in basis on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12pm - 8pm.
WHAT IS EAR WAX?
Believe it or not, ear wax is actually important in keeping your ears healthy. Ear wax, also known as cerumen, helps trap dirt, insects, bacteria, and fungi, and blocks water from hitting your sensitive ear drum. This protects you from some infections - but too much may cause conductive hearing loss, because ear wax will block the ear canal, making it difficult for sound to pass through.
Anatomy of the Ear:
An ear has many parts, including the outer ear (the pinna, er canal, and the front of the tympanic membrane), middle ear (ear drum, the tympanic cavity, and a bunch of small bones, which help in conducting and translating sound to the brain), and the inner ear (another space, some nerves, and the auditory tube).
Now the ear drum, which, is similar to a musical drum, has what is called a “membrane”, which vibrates when sound reaches your ear. This membrane is very, very thin (think thinner than an onion peel), and can be punctured, especially if you try to stick things in your ear as a “home remedy”. Diagrams showing a healthy ear (with a normal tympanic membrane), an inside view of a clean and healthy eardrum, is found below.
A diagram of the ear, including an ear canal free of cerumen, as well as an intact tympanic membrane. Sound is picked up by the pinna, passes through the ear canal, and “hits” the tympanic membrane, making it vibrate. Eventually, these vibrations are translated by some nerves in the ear and passed on to the brain. It’s the brain that translates these vibrations as what we call “sound”.
A typical, healthy ear drum. This is what the doctor sees when they shine a light into your ears, and there is no wax.
Ear wax builds up in the ear canal. You should attempt to put nothing larger than your elbow into your ear. Anything smaller than that can potentially tear your ear drum
Ear Wax Removal – Irrigation/Syringing…done by a highly trained physician
Ear syringing/irrigation is one way to remove ear wax. Water is used to gently flush the wax out of the ear, without damaging the ear drum or causing trauma to the ear canal.
Ear Wax Removal – Manual Removal/Curetting…done by a highly trained physician
With ear curetting/manual wax removal, a physician using specialized instruments can scoop the wax out, small bits at a time, without damaging the ear drum or causing trauma to the ear canal.
Sometimes a microscope is needed to assess the ear canal and tympanic membrane. This is done by a highly trained physician
Signs and symptoms of earwax buildup:
- Plugged feeling in the ear
- Noises in the ears (tinnitus)
- Decreased hearing
- Ear pain
Your first step is always to see a doctor. If you are concerned that there may be an earwax blockage in your ear, do not attempt to treat it yourself without first seeing your doctor to confirm the cause. Let a trained physician properly diagnose and treat the problem.
- Do not use cotton swabs or q-tips. These often push the wax closer to the ear drum and can cause the wax to be impacted, making it harder for the surgeon to remove. Since earwax is only produced in the outer third of the ear canal, frequent use of q-tips and cotton swabs are often the reason wax ends up deeper in the ear canal
- Do not use high pressure suction. Eardrums are sensitive and delicate membranes within the ear can be injured/torn by too much force.
- Do not use ear candling, as it is unsafe and can result in serious damage to the ear canal and ear drum. Ear candling involves putting a candle over the ear while lighting the uncovered end on fire. This can burn the ear.
Hours of Operation
Tuesdays: 12 pm – 8 pm*
Wednesdays: 12 pm – 8 pm*
Available 7-days a week (including holidays) 365-days a year, with extended hours (8AM - 11PM)