Earwax blockage or impacted ear wax occurs when it becomes too hard to be washed away naturally. Consequently, it needs to be removed byBest ENT specialist in Karachi. Read on to know more about impacted earwax and how to deal with it:
What is impacted or buildup of earwax?
Earwax is produced by the glands in the ear canal. Cerumen or earwax buildup occurs in the ear when earwaxbecomes too hard to be washed away, or there is excessive production of it in the ear. In the natural order of things, earwax is removed by the body itself, and forms part of the ears’ defense against harmful fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects and dust.The earwax traps these harmful agents and stops them from reaching the eardrum, where they could cause infection and damage. Thereafter, this earwax dries up and falls out of the ear itself, along with the trapped debris and dust particles.
If this wax is not removed timely, it may harden and cause buildup. Factors that increase earwax buildup will be mentioned later.
What are the symptoms of impacted earwax?
People with impacted earwax often complain of:
- Decreased hearing
- Buzzing in the ear (tinnitus)
More serious symptoms include:
- Drainage from the ear canal
- Pain in the ear
- Smelly odor from the ear
- High grade fever
What are the causes of impacted earwax?
One of the commonest reasons for impacted earwax is: use of cotton swabs and other objects to clean the ear. These objects may remove the superficial wax, but they also push the rest of the wax deeper into the ear canal, closer to the eardrum.
Impacted earwax is also common in people who use hearing aids and earplugs. Since the ears are self-cleaning organs, use of such devices hampers this process and causes buildup instead.
Impacted earwax is seen more often in people who have smaller-than-average ear canals, and excess earwax production. Such people form a small percentage of those with impacted earwax.
When to seek the help of a healthcare provider?
Impacted earwax may seem like a trivial issue; however, it can lead to serious ear problems. Untreated earwax buildup can lead to ear infection and even perforation of the eardrum. Often, people try home remedies and other methods, without verifying earwax buildup as the issue. This in itself causes many complications.
Thus, help of the healthcare provider must be sought before trying any home remedies, to confirm the diagnosis, or if there are severe complications like fever,loss of balance, persistent vomiting, inability to walk, spinning sensation or sudden hearing loss.
How to deal with impacted earwax?
Your healthcare provider can use the following methods to clean the impacted earwax:
- Curetting: often, doctors use an instrument called curette, which is shaped like a small plastic spoon, to scoop out the softened excess earwax.
- Suction: alternatively, they may suction out the excess earwax. Small operating microscopes are often used by doctors to magnify the ear canal; thereafter, they inspect it for signs of infection, loosen the wax and then vacuum out the buildup of earwax.
- Ear drops: doctors can also clean the ear with warmed water, prescription-ear drops or sodium bicarbonate to deal with the impacted earwax.
What are the complications of earwax buildup?
If earwax is not removed carefully and timely, there can be complications like:
- Middle ear infection
- Perforation of the eardrum
- External-ear infection, particularly if one tries to remove the wax themselves
- Acoustic trauma causing permanent hearing loss
How to prevent earwax buildup?
A simple way to prevent earwax buildup, as explained by experts like Best ENT specialist in Lahore,is to stop using cotton Q-tips and other objects to clean the earcanal. Instead of cleaning the ear canal, as mentioned before, these cotton swabs end up pushing the earwax deeper into the ear canal, closer to the eardrum.
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