Ear Wax


The ear canal produces a waxy oil called cerumen or more commonly known as ear wax. This wax protects the ear from dust, microorganisms and foreign particles.

The ear is quite capable of cleaning itself through a ‘conveyor-belt’ like the process in which the ear canal skin grows from inside out and it is aided by chewing and other jaw movements in pushing out the older earwax. Once it reaches the outside of the ear, it flakes off on its own.

The earwax is termed as impacted when its build up in the ear canal reaches abnormal quantities indicating an issue with the natural self-cleaning process.

the following people may be more prone to it earwax impaction :

  • Those using hearing aids.
  • Those habitual of putting ear-buds, hairpins and safety pins etc. into their ear.
  • Ageing persons.
  • Those with awkwardly shaped ear canals that are ill-suited for an efficient self-cleaning mechanism.

Causes of Impacted Earwax


  • The unsafe habit of using items like ear-buds and safety pins to clean the ear that actually does quite the opposite by pushing earwax further into the ear.
  • The ear canal trauma inflicted by pointed objects lead to an ear with impacted earwax.

Symptoms of Impacted Earwax


  • Ear feels heavy from inside.
  • There is a pain in your ear.
  • There is itchiness inside the ear.
  • Having hearing problems that seem to be getting worse with time.
  • Hearing ringing sounds in the ear (also called tinnitus)
  • The ear is letting off a brownish discharge.
  • A foul odour emanating from the ear.
  • Getting dizzy spells.

Precautions & Treatments


  • Never put ear buds, safety pins or hairpins in the ear canal.
  • If there are symptoms of ear impaction, do not try to clean it out by yourself. Visit an ENT specialist.
  • Post-examination, an ENT specialist will: –
        • Prescribe cerumenolytic (ear wax softening agent) solutions to soften and dissolve the earwax build up.
        • Irrigate the ear canal with water or saline using a syringe after the earwax softens.
        • Remove the earwax using special and sterile instruments.

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