What is Cerumen?
Cerumen is the technical term for earwax. It’s a waxy substance produced in the ear canal to protect the skin, assist in cleaning and lubrication, and provide protection from dirt and debris that can cause ear infections. Normally, wax doesn’t cause a problem. But sometimes our ears produce excessive wax, which can lead to problems. Wax build-up can block the ear canal resulting in temporary hearing loss. It can also cause problems for hearing aid wearers, since it gets into the receiver of the hearing aid and blocks the sound.
What Causes Excessive Cerumen?
The amount of earwax you produce is genetically determined, some people produce more than others. The shape of your ear canal could lead to wax problems and Q-tips can push wax further into the ear canal causing it to become impacted. Hearing aid wearers and earplug users are also more prone to earwax blockage.
Symptoms of Excessive Cerumen:
Excessive earwax can cause symptoms such as earaches, aural fullness, decreased hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness, coughing, itching or discharge from the ear canal.
Diagnoses of Excessive Cerumen:
If you suspect you have excessive earwax, a hearing aid practitioner or audiologist can diagnose earwax blockage by looking into your ear with an otoscope. They may recommend you see a doctor to have the cerumen removed, or they may be able to remove it in their office.
There are a variety of ways to remove excessive cerumen:
- Wax softening drops – the active ingredient in the ear drops softens the wax making it easier to remove.
- Irrigation – a syringe is used to gently flush the ear with warm water to remove the wax.
- Suction – a vacuum is used to gently suction out the excessive wax.
- Curette – a small plastic spoon is used to gently remove the wax from the ear canal.
If you suspect you have a problem with earwax, or are having difficulty hearing, contact a Living Sounds Hearing Centre healthcare provider at 780-488-8100 or book your appointment now.