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Earwax Microsution Barnstaple

Earwax Buildup: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

 

Located in Torrinton a few minutes drive from Barnstaple, the Devon ear clinic normally has appointments available daily.

The ear canal is lined with sebaceous and ceruminous glands that produce a greasy, viscous substance called cerumen, more commonly known as earwax.

This oily secretion lubricates the ear canal and forms a protective covering over the delicate skin of the inner ear to trap invading germs, dust, and other irritants. Moreover, it serves as a medium for carrying dead skin cells and dust out of the ear.

Earwax is vital for the health of your ears but it can be a problem if it is secreted in excess amounts or accumulates over time.

Why Does Earwax Accumulate?

how does earwax accumulate inside the ear canal?

Earwax naturally migrates from the back of the ear canal toward the ear opening, assisted by the constant jaw motions while talking, chewing, and yawning. Once it reaches the ear opening, earwax dries up, turns flaky, and falls out of the ear on its own.

Any disruption in this natural migratory process can lead to the progressive buildup and hardening of cerumen within the ear canal known as impaction.

An overproduction of cerumen can also overwhelm the self-cleaning mechanism of the ear and cause an earwax buildup or blockage. (1)

Causes of Earwax Buildup/Blockage

what causes earwax buildup?

Ear wax removal Barnstaple North Devon

Need your ears syringing? We have appointments available weekly.

The following factors can lead to the buildup and impaction of cerumen, resulting in an ear blockage:

  • Certain ear infections such as swimmer’s ear can cause a narrowing of the outer ear canal due to inflammation and can pave the way for earwax accumulation.
  • Dermatological conditions such as eczema are characterised by hardened wax secretions and dry, flaky skin, both of which can contribute to excessive cerumen accumulation.
  • Autoimmune conditions such as lupus can also lead to excess earwax buildup.
  • Some trauma or blockage within the ear canal can also trigger an overproduction of cerumen, eventually resulting in a blockage.
  • Unnecessary ear cleaning by inserting your fingers, cotton swabs, or other invasive tools into your ear canal can push the wax deeper into the ear and lodge it against the eardrum.
  • Osteomata, which is characterized by the development of harmless bony protrusions in the external ear canal, can disrupt the self-cleaning mechanism of the ear.
  • The regular use of earplugs, music earplugs, or even hearing aids can push the earwax further into the ear canal, leading to blockage.

Signs and Symptoms of Earwax Buildup

Some of the signs and symptoms of the accumulation of excessive earwax include:

  • A feeling of blockage or fullness in the ear
  • Earache
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear
  • A foul smell coming from the ear
  • An uneasy sensation inside the ear
  • Hearing problems, including temporary deafness (2)
  • Itchiness in the ear
  • Ear discharge
  • Vertigo (dizziness)

Medical Treatment for Earwax Blockage

Your doctor decides the appropriate treatment after examining the extent of earwax impaction and ruling out an ear infection or a pierced or perforated eardrum.

treatment for earwax blockage Barnstaple North Devon

The standard treatment options for earwax removal include:

1. Ear drops

OTC hydrogen peroxide or enzyme-containing ear drops can be administered daily for a few days to dissolve the impacted earwax so that it can move more easily out of the ear canal.

2. Ear irrigation

This process involves flushing your ear canal with a controlled, pressurised flow of warm water to dislodge and expel the impacted/excess earwax.

Although ear irrigation can be done using a metal syringe, an electronic ear irrigator is a safer and medically preferred option. (3)

3. Microsuction

Microsuction is a slightly discomforting but largely painless medical procedure that requires the patient to stay very still as the earwax is suctioned out of the cavity.

The doctor may also use a small device such as a curette or a cerumen spoon to manually remove the impacted wax, usually when all the other methods have failed.

How Is Earwax Blockage Diagnosed?

Diagnosing an ear blockage involves the following steps:

1. Medical history

Your ENT doctor or otologist will first review your medical history and symptoms.

2. Ear exam

The doctor will then look inside your ear cavity through a magnifying tool called an otoscope for any sign of impacted earwax.

3. Banji’s test

Sometimes the impaction is so severe that it clogs the entire ear canal such that the doctor is unable to see through it and has to resort to other diagnostic techniques such as Banji’s test.

It involves pulling the pinna, or the outermost part of the visible ear, making room for the sound to travel through the congested ear canal and momentarily improving the patient’s hearing. However, if there is no improvement in sound perception, impaired hearing may be due to something other than cerumen impaction. (4)

Risk Factors

The following risk factors can make you increasingly predisposed to developing an earwax-induced blockage:

  • Certain anatomical features such as a narrow or underdeveloped ear canal can make you prone to earwax buildup.
  • Some people, such as those of East Asian descent, produce a less fluid form of cerumen that is more likely to clump and form a blockage.
  • This condition is more common in people with a history of impacted earwax and recurrent ear infections.
  • People with excessive hair growth in the ear canals have a higher likelihood of developing earwax blockages.
  • People tend to secrete harder and drier earwax as they get older, which is then more prone to impaction.

Possible Complications

complications of excessive earwax buildup

Barnstaple ear wax removal

Earwax blockage due to cerumen accumulation/impaction can lead to the following complications if it is not treated properly or if it escalates to a serious degree:

  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Middle ear infection
  • Outer ear infection such as swimmer’s ear
  • Vertigo characterised by dizziness and disorientation, typically when the earwax gets pushed against the eardrum or tympanic membrane
  • Persistent tinnitus, marked by a ringing or buzzing sound in your ear

When to See a Doctor

Prompt medical assistance is particularly warranted if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistently high fever
  • Constant nausea
  • Severe vertigo that can disrupt your body balance to such a degree that it becomes difficult for you to walk
  • Sudden loss of hearing
  • Yellow or green pus-like discharge from the ear canal
  • Acute ear pain or bleeding after inserting an ear cleaning object into the affected ear canal

Final Word

Your ear is a self-cleaning organ that gradually but systematically eliminates the old earwax. Thus, deep cleaning your ears is not required unless there is enough earwax buildup to cause symptoms such as earache or hearing problems.

There are some self-care measures and home therapies that may assist with the expulsion of excess earwax but refer to an ear specialist before starting self-treatment.

Ears Microsuctioned at our Torrington ear clinic. See our fees page for more info

Barnstaple ear wax removal,

Ear wax, to oil or not to oil?

 

To Oil or Not to Oil?

I get asked this question everyday and the quick answer is – yes, mostly it is of benefit!

But let’s look at the complexities more closely – firstly we need to establish whether the full feeling, pain, or itchiness in your ear/ears is due to wax or infection (normally Otitis externa – an outer ear infection).  If you felt you were experiencing the latter (there is a watery discharge and usually pain) then oil is of no benefit – head straight to your GP for a swab of the ear canal and possible antibiotics.

South Molton ear wax removal

 

However if we are certain that the blocked feeling is due to wax then yes – oil is a benefit. There are just two important rules here when oiling – volume and frequency.

Our goal here is to just oil the canal and soften the wax slightly.  If we over-oil then we end up spreading the wax over the surface of the ear drum which is less comfortable to have suctioned off.

So the key is to oil only one day prior (two applications is satisfactory). Using an eye dropper is the easiest – half fill the eye dropper with plain olive oil – lying on your side is the easiest way – slowly insert the oil – massage the tragus (The tragus is a small pointed eminence of the external ear) gently post application, as oil likes to sit in a bubble sometimes and massaging will allow it to penetrate deep into the canal.  Stay lying on your side for 5 – 10 minutes. Use a cotton ball or piece of tissue to catch any excess oil.

Ear wax removal near Bude Cornwall

 

There is only one exception to the rule.  In this case, we would NOT apply oil if we (as above suspected an outer ear infection) or suspected a perforated ear drum (Tympanic Membrane). A perforation is usually associated with pain, hearing loss and normally a discharge but not always.  Oil would be of no value and we do not want oil to seeping into the middle ear space.

If you are unsure if oiling is going to be of value prior to Microsuction then a quick chat on the telephone or popping into our clinic for a quick view through the microscope might be the better option.

Barnstaple ear wax removal,

To Oil or Not to Oil? When to oil your ears

I get asked this question everyday and the quick answer is – yes, mostly it is of benefit!

But let’s look at the complexities more closely – firstly we need to establish whether the full feeling, pain, or itchiness in your ear/ears is due to wax or infection (normally Otitis externa – an outer ear infection).  If you felt you were experiencing the latter (there is a watery discharge and usually pain) then oil is of no benefit – head straight to your GP for a swab of the ear canal and possible antibiotics.

However if we are certain that the blocked feeling is due to wax then yes – oil is a benefit. There are just two important rules here when oiling – volume and frequency.

Our goal here is to just oil the canal and soften the wax slightly.  If we over-oil then we end up spreading the wax over the surface of the ear drum which is less comfortable to have suctioned off.

So the key is to oil only one day prior (two applications is satisfactory). Using an eye dropper is the easiest – half full the eye dropper with olive oil – lying on your side is the easiest way – slowly insert the oil – massage the tragus (The tragus is a small pointed eminence of the external ear) gently post application, as oil likes to sit in a bubble sometimes and massaging will allow it to penetrate deep into the canal.  Stay lying on your side for 5 – 10 minutes. Use a cotton ball or piece of tissue to catch any excess oil.

Ear wax removal near South Molton

 

There is only one exception to the rule (gee there is always one!).  In this case, we would NOT apply oil if we (as above suspected an outer ear infection) or suspected a perforated ear drum (Tympanic Membrane). A perforation is usually associated with pain, hearing loss and normally a discharge but not always.  Oil would be of no value and we do not want oil to seeping into the middle ear space.

If you are unsure if oiling is going to be of value prior to Microsuction then a quick chat on the telephone or popping into our clinic for a quick checkup.

If you are in South Molton, Bude or Bideford we can remove ear wax almost on the same day. We have appointments available  now.
Torrington ear wax clinic

Bideford Ear wax Removal

We are based Near Bideford and are a dedicated ear wax removal clinic.

 

We are based Near Bideford and are a dedicated ear wax removal clinic. We are constantly hearing stories about cotton buds and ear wax, but have you ever heard that you shouldn’t stick cotton buds in your ears? Maybe you’ve even read the back of a box of q-tips. If so, you know that q-tips are not designed to clean your ears.

Cleaning your ears with a q-tip may cause damage to the eardrum, and could force earwax further down your ear canal, causing a blockage. Doctors are very serious about proper ear care, and they stress that you should never use a q-tip to clean the earwax from your ears.

Microsuction ear wax removal Bideford

 

If q-tips aren’t doctor recommended, what is the best way to clean my ears?

The safest and most effective method for removing earwax is by applying a few drops of olive oil, mineral oil, or over-the-counter ear drops into the ear canal. These fluids will help to break down the wax, and allow it to naturally work its way out. While this method may work for those with average earwax production, it may not be enough for those that naturally produce an excess of earwax.

To further loosen earwax, it is recommended that you lightly irrigate the ear canal. This can be done by running water from your hand to your ear, or by tilting your head in the shower. Make sure the incoming water pressure is very low and let the water rest in your ear canal for a few minutes before tilting your head back to its normal resting position. Warm water will help to loosen the ear wax, but make sure it’s not too hot.

If you continue to experience excess earwax production it is recommended that you receive professional ear cleaning services several times a year.

If you’re concerned with your earwax production and are experiencing discomfort, hearing difficulties, or itching or drainage from the ear canal, you should consult with your doctor immediately.

We use Microsuction for the removal of ear wax which is now the preferred method the NHS recommend

If you live in or near Bideford and would like a quick appointment without the wait or the travel to Barnstaple contact us by phone or here.