Cerumen, commonly called earwax, plays an important role in the health of our ears and our hearing capacity. Not only does it work as a barrier blocking external debris from getting deep into our ears, but it also protects the tissue of our ear canals by lubricating and coating them. Earwax also has incredible antimicrobial properties that help protect our ears from infections.
Sometimes we end up with too much earwax, and this can result in temporary hearing loss, earaches, or worse. It’s important to always get any impacted earwax professionally removed, as the eardrum is a delicate membrane and damaging it by trying to clear your own ear canal is unfortunately quite easy to do.
At Tri-City Audiology, we are usually able to safely and comfortably remove excess cerumen without difficulty. When it is impacted, painful, or involves any contraindications as listed below, we will refer a patient to a trusted ENT.
Before completing cerumen removal, our audiologist will gather a medical history with specific emphasis on any known disorders or surgeries of the ear. Cerumen management is contraindicated if any of the following conditions exist: recent otalgia, ear drainage, history of diabetes, mastoid or extensive middle ear surgery, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the use of anticoagulant medications.
A thorough examination of the external auditory canal is performed to evaluate the general appearance of both the canal tissues and the cerumen. We will also examine your eardrum to find out if and how it is being affected by the earwax. If there is any blood, infectious material, or a foreign body present, we will refer you to a primary care physician. If the cerumen is extremely hard and packed, or deep in the canal and possibly resting against your eardrum, our audiologist may recommend seeing a specialist.
Assuming the removal of your excess earwax will be straightforward, we extract it with instrumentation and/or suction. A lighted loop or curette is used to grasp and pull moist cerumen out of the canal while using suction to remove any remaining debris. If the cerumen appears hard and dry, a three-day course of a wax-removal agent at home is recommended to soften the cerumen before we try to remove it.
If cerumen is causing you discomfort or hearing loss, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.