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Earwax Dos and Don’ts

Ear Health

We have all had some degree of experience with that yellow-y sticky substance in our ears. While earwax (also known as cerumen) is a normal bodily excretion, it can cause temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, or ear pain if not managed properly. Read on to learn about the dos and don’ts of managing earwax.

Do


  • Know that earwax is normal. Earwax that does not cause symptoms, block the ear canal, or disrupt the function of your hearing aid should be left alone.
  • Know the symptoms of earwax impaction (wax blocking the ear): decreased hearing, sensation of ear fullness, ringing in the ear, and distortion/changes to hearing aid function.
  • See your healthcare provider or audiologist if you have symptoms of earwax impaction. Otitis media (fluid behind the eardrum), otitis externa (ear canal infection), and sudden inner ear hearing loss can have similar symptoms to earwax impaction so it is important to have the condition evaluated as quickly as possible. Our Doctors of Audiology at Clear Sound Audiology are trained to recognize these conditions and make appropriate referrals if it is more than earwax.
  • Ask your healthcare provider or audiologist about ways that you can treat your earwax impaction at home. You may have certain medical or ear conditions which may make some options unsafe.
  • Seek medical attention if you have severe ear pain, ear drainage, or ear bleeding. These are not symptoms of earwax impaction and need medical attention.

Don’t


  • Don’t over-clean your ears. Too much cleaning may irritate your ear canal, cause infection, and may even increase the chances of earwax impaction.
  • Don’t put cotton swabs (Q-tips), bobby pins, keys, toothpicks, or other things in your ears. These can injure your ear, such as cutting your ear canal or poking a hole in your eardrum, causing hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus and other symptoms of ear injury.
  • Don’t use ear candles. Ear candles do not remove earwax and can cause serious damage to the ear canal and ear drum.
  • Don’t ignore your symptoms if home remedies are not working. Seek medical or audiological attention if your symptoms do not go away.
  • Don’t irrigate or try ear drops if you’ve had previous ear surgery or a history of a hole in your eardrum, unless you have been cleared to do so by your physician.
  • Don’t forget to clean your hearing aids as recommended by your audiologist. At Clear Sound Audiology, we offer convenient and affordable maintenance plans to ensure your hearing aids remain clean and are working optimally.

Please call our office at 352-505-6766 if you would like to be evaluated for earwax and/or have your hearing aids cleaned and maintained. Please be advised that should your earwax be severely impacted or we notice signs of an ear infection, we will make the appropriate referral for you to have this treated by an Ear Nose & Throat physician instead.

Source: Adapted from Schwartz SR, Magit AE, Rosenfeld RM, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline (Update): Earwax (Cerumen Impaction). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;156(1_suppl):S1-S29.

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