Wax (Cerumen) Problems
Wax is essential to the health of the ear canals. It is very protective in keeping foreign material out of the ear canals and it has enzymes and some antibodies. It also moisturizes the skin of the ear canals. So a small amount of was is actually healthy. But often wax will build up slowly in the ear canals and is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Some people just make more wax than others. Ear plugs, Q-tips and hearing aids may impact the wax deep in the ear canals.
There are many over the counter wax removal kits that are usually ineffective at removing most of the wax, and water may get trapped behind the wax making it more uncomfortable. We do not recommend "candling" as a treatment for wax removal.
After a thorough ear exam, with the aid of microscope in our office, we may be able to safely and effectively remove the wax build up form the ear canals without messy irrigations. The microscope allows our physicians to also get a close up view of all the important ear structures.
Eczema (dry itchy scaly skin) is also common in the ear canals and may cause wax to build up. We can usually treat this with several medications.
To prevent wax build up that occludes the ear canals, we strongly recommend NOT using cotton swabs or other objects that can pack wax deep in the canals. If you use ear plugs or ear "buds" to listen to music, we recommend not placing them deep in the canals and clean them frequently. Gently washing the ear canals out with luke warm soapy water once a week or two with a small bulb syringe may help wash out the excess wax.