If you’re asking yourself what is impacted ear wax, then you’ve come to right place. Read on to find out more!
Earwax is the yellowish, waxy substance found in your ear, also known as Cerumen. Earwax is secreted in the ear canal and has several purposes. It acts as a lubricant, it helps protect the ear against bacteria, fungi, water in the ear, insects that may find their way in the ear, among other foreign objects. The ears typically clean themselves by moving earwax out of the canal by way of a natural migration process along with active jaw movements, however, sometimes earwax may become impacted and cause problems.
Symptoms of Earwax Impaction
You may not recognize the symptoms of earwax impaction unless it is something you deal with on a regular basis or have had it before. Earwax impaction can mimic other problems with the ear and symptoms can include:
• Discharge coming from the ear
• Fullness feeling in the affected ear
• Ringing in the ear
• Odor emanating from the ear
• Pain in the ear
• Itchiness in the ear
• Feeling dizzy
• Difficulty hearing clearly in the ear
Causes of Earwax Impaction
- Shape of the ear canal – Ear canals are shaped similarly in most people, which aids in the process of earwax expulsion. If the ear canal is oddly shape however, earwax may get trapped and build-up to the point of needing to be physically removed.
- Certain disabilities – If you are born with certain disabilities, specifically developmental disabilities, can experience more problems with earwax impaction.
- Use of hearing aids, earplugs or Q-Tips – Anything that is put into the ear can cause earwax to be pushed into the canal and clog it. People who use hearing aids, earplugs on a regular basis, or routinely try to clean their ears with a Q-Tip either push the earwax into the canal or are preventing it from moving out of the canal.
- Elderly people – As people age, the production of earwax may increase as well as the lack of ability to properly care for the ears.
How Earwax Impaction Is Treated
Trying to remove the impaction yourself can result in damaging the ear drum and causing significant trauma to the ear. A medical professional is the only one who should remove the earwax impaction. Your physician has the right tools and techniques to treat the wax safely. Your doctor will examine your ear and with an otoscope, he can see into your canal to where the wax is sitting. Between a visual exam and a compilation of your symptoms he will be able to determine if the impaction is in need of manually being removed.
The most common forms of treatment for earwax removal include:
- Wipe out the outside of the ear with a clean cloth
- Using a type of cerumenolytic solution in the ear to dissolve the wax. These types of solutions include baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin, a peroxide-based ear drop, or saline solution
- Irrigating the ear with warm water can help dislodge the ball of wax. Irrigation is typically done after a cerumenolytic solution is used to soften it
- Using an instrument to remove the wax may be necessary. Your doctor may need to use a cerumen spoon, forceps or a suction device such as a bulb syringe
For more watch this clip of removing impacted ear wax at home: