What is cerumen in the ear?
Cerumen, also known as earwax, is a waxy substance produced by glands in the ear canal. It helps to protect the ear by trapping dirt, dust, and bacteria. Cerumen is typically expelled from the ear canal on its own, but sometimes it can build up and cause problems.
Cerumen production is a normal process. However, some people are more likely to develop cerumen buildup than others. These people may include:
- People with narrow ear canals
- People who wear hearing aids or ear plugs
- People who have a history of ear infections
- People who live in dry climates
What may cerumen cause?
If cerumen builds up, it can block the ear canal and cause a number of problems, including:
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Pressure in the ear
- Nausea and vomiting
Should you remove cerumen?
If you have a buildup of cerumen, you should see a doctor or audiologist to have it removed. Do not try to remove cerumen yourself, as you could push it further into the ear canal and make the problem worse.
What removes cerumen?
There are a number of ways to remove cerumen, including:
- Irrigation: A doctor or audiologist can use a stream of water to flush out the ear canal.
- Microsuction: A doctor or audiologist uses a small, vacuum-like device to suction out the cerumen.
- Ear drops: Over-the-counter ear drops can help to soften cerumen so that it can be removed more easily.
Is it safe to remove cerumen at home?
It is not safe to remove cerumen at home with cotton swabs, hairpins, or other objects. These objects can push the cerumen further into the ear canal and cause serious damage. If you have a buildup of cerumen, it is important to see a doctor or audiologist to have it removed safely.
If you have any concerns about cerumen buildup, talk to your doctor or audiologist.