Have you ever suddenly realized that you can’t hear well through just one of your ears? It’s not uncommon to find yourself saying “Will you repeat that?” or favoring one ear when you talk on the phone. It may be due to earwax buildup in your ear that’s causing a blockage.
Dr. Shamala performs routine ear, nose, and throat (ENT) procedures like this on a regular basis, and a correction or adjustment like this may sound minor, but it can make all the difference in terms of your quality of life.
You may not be visiting for a wellness exam or even care for a chronic condition, but pesky health issues like this — once they’re corrected — can make you feel like a brand new person!
The purpose of earwax
Earwax is actually protective. Your body produces it to help lubricate, safeguard, and clean your ears. The substance is also known as cerumen and is between 20 and 50% fat. The sticky stuff:
- Keeps your ear moist
- Fends off infection
- Acts as a barrier to keep dirt and other foreign objects from damaging your inner ear
So, earwax definitely serves an important purpose, but too much of a good thing, and you’ve got discomfort and problems.
Five factors that point to earwax blockage
Some people produce too little earwax, while others make too much. You may wonder how to identify an earwax blockage problem, but Dr. Shamala has treated enough patients with this problem to know that some very obvious symptoms are indicators:
1. Hearing loss
We mentioned this earlier, but if you suddenly find yourself struggling to hear, it may very well be because of too much earwax clogging up your ear.
2. Ringing in your ears
Otherwise known as tinnitus, a continuous ringing in your ears may signal a blockage. This problem is usually associated with being exposed to loud noise for long periods of time, but a lesser-known cause of tinnitus is indeed impacted earwax.
Anything that interferes with the normal function of your ears can lead to vertigo or dizziness. Plugged earwax shouldn’t be in your ear, and the longer it’s there, the harder and more immovable it gets. If a blockage that causes dizziness isn’t cleared, a fall may follow.
4. Infection or ear discharge
When an earwax surplus sits in your ear for a lengthy period, a viral or bacterial infection can develop. You may notice considerable pain, fever, ear discharge, and even a foul odor emanating from your ear.
For a viral infection, over-the-counter pain medications can keep ear pain at bay, and a course of antibiotics will clear up a bacterial infection.
5. Ear pain
Perhaps the most common symptom of earwax blockage is the pain caused by ear wax that is stuck and has nowhere to go. The pressure and irritation often cause a persistent earache, which can throw you off quite a bit, as chronic pain grates on your body and mind.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you’re likely experiencing a blockage. It’s important to seek professional treatment because, at this point, home remedies can make things worse.
Ear wax blockage treatments: Safe versus risky
Typically, your body expels earwax naturally after it has done its work, but if it gets stuck, it’s best not to try to clear it by using a cotton swab. Doing so often moves the wax even deeper into your ear, exacerbating your symptoms and discomfort.
Another home method, ear candling, is downright unsafe. This involves placing a narrow, lit candle into your ear as a means of removing wax, but ear injuries and burns have resulted.
It’s best to visit us for blockage care. Dr. Shamala examines the inside of your ear with an otoscope, which allows her to see if there’s ear waxy buildup in your ear. If there is, she assesses the degree of blockage you have.
Dr. Shamala treats blockages differently, depending on the patient. She might advise you to give it a bit more time — the blockage may resolve on its own.
If it doesn’t, she may recommend ear irrigation, an effective and quick treatment where she rinses out your ear with saline or water while using a syringe. Before she does this, however, she puts the softening agent cerumenolytic in your ear to break up the wax.
Some cases call for her to take wax out of the ear with manual tools, including a special cerumen spoon designed for just this purpose, a suctioning tool, or a small forceps.
After treatment, you may be shocked that your hearing normalizes within seconds, and you can go about your normal life immediately.
Dr. Shamala would like to remedy your earwax blockage as quickly as possible. Call our office at 408-290-8467 to schedule an appointment and find relief.