Ear Wax

Ear Wax

Ear wax is caused by the accumulation of dead skin found within the ear and actually has many functional properties. It has antibacterial properties and serves to trap dust and other particles that might enter the ear. Think of it as part of a self-cleaning mechanism inbuilt into the ear.

Contrary to popular belief, it is actually quite unnecessary to clean out the ear with ear diggers or cotton buds, as this might push the ear wax in deeper. Over cleaning can also trigger more wax production. In certain patients, this might lead to a condition called impacted ear wax.

This condition occurs when there is blockage in the ear caused by an excessive amount of ear wax. This obstruction can result in an obstruction in the ear drum, thus leading to a potential ear infection as well as hearing loss.

In order to clear the ear out, a procedure known as an aural toilet is conducted. This involves using the suction of a ear vacuum with a microscope imaging tool.

I would not recommend ear syringing as this causes fluid to enter the ear canal which might lead to an ear drum injury.

Impacted Ear Wax
Picture of a case of impacted ear wax


Picture of ear canal cleared with ear drum clearly visualized

There are some over the counter ear wax cleaning solutions that are moderately effective in unblocking your ears, but they sometimes make the blockage worse.

There are some over the counter ear wax cleaning solutions that are moderately effective in unblocking your ears, but they sometimes make the blockage worse.

If you need to unblock your ears, try to apply ear wax cleaning solutions and follow guidelines closely. In order for the solution to enter the ear completely, it is good to massage the outer part of the ear prior. The solution should help unclog your ear in a few days. If this is ineffective, see an ENT specialist who will perform an aural toilet to clear your ear out.

I highly recommend against using home remedies to clean out the ears of ear wax or treat ear infections. They can be highly dangerous and damaging to the ear. For example, some say that the use of vinegar and alcohol may be effective. But the acidic quality of these solutions can prove to be injurious to the ear canal or drum. In fact, some of my patients have even caused a hole in their ear drum from using these home remedies!

No. Impacted ear wax would mean that the ear wax is almost impossible to fully remove without surgery

Yes, ear wax commonly falls out by itself from time to time.

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