Impacted earwax might sound like a minor issue, but it can cause significant discomfort and even temporary hearing loss! If you’ve experienced pain, ringing noises, or a feeling of fullness in your ears, this common condition might be the culprit. 

This post will guide you through the signs and safe treatment options for impacted earwax, aiming to provide you with all the knowledge you need to support your auditory health for years to come.

What Is Impacted Earwax? 

Impacted earwax is a common health concern that affects over 6% of the population. It refers to earwax that has accumulated and hardened in your ear canal to the point where it might block your ear. 

Unlike regular earwax which self-cleans by moving out of the ear, impacted wax becomes lodged and can cause a series of complications, including temporary hearing loss. Fortunately, impacted earwax – or impacted cerumen – is easily preventable and treatable. Let’s look at how in this guide. 

Causes Of Impacted Earwax

Several factors could contribute to the occurrence of impacted earwax. Now, let’s delve into some of these possible reasons:

  • Using cotton swabs or other objects: Many people tend to use these items in an attempt to clean their ears, which can sadly push the wax deeper, causing it to become impacted.
  • Age: Older adults are more prone to have impacted earwax as the consistency of the wax changes with age.
  • Using hearing aids and earplugs: Regular use can lead to a buildup of earwax as they prevent its normal outward flow.
  • Narrow or twisted ear canals: Some individuals are just naturally born with anatomical variations that increase their chances for impactions.
  • Skin conditions or infections: Any issues that impact skin health within your ears might promote excessive wax production. 

Understanding what’s causing impacted earwax can help you prevent this condition from becoming recurrent. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Impacted Earwax

Impacted earwax can cause a suite of symptoms that simply aren’t ignorable. Knowing these symptoms could provide the first warning sign that something is wrong with your ears, prompting you to seek professional medical help. 

Here are some of the telltale signs you should watch out for:

  • A feeling of fullness or discomfort in your ear
  • Tinnitus, or a ringing sound in your ear
  • Hearing difficulties
  • A foul smell from the ear
  • Dizziness
  • Earache
  • Coughing
  • Leakages from the ear

Impacted Earwax: Safe Treatment Options

Although impacted earwax can be a life-limiting complication, it can be easily treated by partnering with your audiologist. A specialist will offer you all the insights and instruments you need for cleaning excessive ear wax safely and efficiently. 

Let’s look at these treatment options in more detail below:

Earwax Softening Drops

If you’re dealing with impacted earwax, one common treatment is earwax softening drops. These over-the-counter solutions typically include ingredients like mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or hydrogen peroxide. Once administered into your ear canal, they work to soften and break down the impacted earwax, making it easier for natural removal.

Manual Removal by a Healthcare Professional

If your earwax impaction cannot be resolved with home remedies, the next step might be manual removal by a healthcare professional. They’ll typically use specialized tools like a cerumen spoon or suction device to safely remove the blockage. It’s crucial to remember that only a trained professional should perform this procedure to prevent injury to your delicate ear canal.

Ear Irrigation

Ear irrigation is a common and effective treatment for impacted earwax. In this procedure, a healthcare professional will introduce a steady stream of warm water into your ear, using a syringe or specialized equipment. The force of the water dislodges the wax, enabling it to be collected and removed.

The Importance Of Finding An Accurate Diagnosis: The Complications Of Impacted Earwax

Through regular health check-ups, potential issues can be detected early, helping you manage them effectively before they escalate into serious conditions. And, this is also the case of impacted earwax. Although this may be a minor problem at first, if left unaddressed, it can lead to severe complications such as:

  • Reduced hearing capabilities.
  • Inner and outer ear infections.
  • Painful earaches.
  • Tinnitus 

Preventing Earwax Buildup: 5 Key Strategies To Safeguard Your Auditory Health

Preventing earwax buildup isn’t difficult. Of course, if you are prone to the excessive production of earwax, or you have small ears, you may be at greater risk of developing this condition. However, some strategies can help you reduce the chances of suffering from impacted earwax in the future. Let’s uncover them one by one below. 

Regularly Clean Your Ears

Regularly cleaning your ears can significantly reduce the risk of earwax buildup. However, remember that cotton swabs should not be used for this purpose as they might push the wax deeper into your ear canal. Doing so can lead to complications like impacted earwax or even a ruptured eardrum.

Wear Protective Gear Like Earplugs 

One vital strategy to prevent earwax buildup is the consistent use of protective gear like earplugs. For instance, if you frequently expose yourself to loud sounds, it’s critical to have earplugs around. They will not only safeguard your ears from excessive noise but also minimize the opportunity for further wax accumulation.

Limit Time Spent With Earphones Or Headphones

The use of earphones or headphones for extended periods can contribute to the buildup of earwax in your ears. By limiting the amount of time you spend with these devices, you can reduce the possibility of accumulating excessive earwax. Essentially, remember to give your ears a break to promote a healthy, natural wax circulation.

Get Regular Hearing Tests

Regular hearing tests are an essential part of preventing earwax buildup. When you attend these exams, medical professionals can spot signs of excess wax early. Consequently, they can remove it before it causes serious complications or even becomes impacted.

Maintain Good Overall Health

To prevent earwax buildup, one strategy you can adopt is to maintain good overall health. Regular exercises and an appropriate diet can help your body function optimally, bolstering auditory health, as well as supporting the self-cleaning mechanism in your ears. Additionally, getting enough sleep assists your body in regeneration processes including the natural clearance of earwax.

Partner With A Specialized Audiologist 

In conclusion, if you are unsure how to deal with the risk of suffering from impacted earwax, one surefire way to boost your hearing health is to work with a specialized audiologist. Your chosen expert can provide regular detailed examinations to monitor and manage your ear health. Ultimately, it’s about taking an additional step towards ensuring well-rounded care of your hearing health!