What Causes Excess Ear Wax?

The ears play a vital role in the body. It produces cerumen, a waxy oil also known as earwax, in order to protect the ears against dirt, foreign particles, and even microorganisms. The earwax also protects that ear canal coating from irritations brought about by water. Normally, the earwax produced are naturally eliminated and washed away. However, when there are excess amounts of earwax present, problems may arise. The excess earwax may harden and block the ear. Know more about what causes this and learn how to properly deal with this condition to get things right.

What Causes Excess Ear Wax?

The excessive production of earwax may be due to several causes. Some may cause pain and inflammation as a sign of an underlying medical condition.

1. Ear Perforation

Ear perforation occurs when the thin and delicate membrane tissue that makes up the eardrum is damaged. Because of this condition, the wax produced in the middle ear can no longer move or migrate out, resulting to the built up of the excessive wax. Ear perforation is primarily due to loud noises, change in blood pressure, or injury to the head and the ears.

2. Inner Ear Infection

The ear perforation can increase the risk of inner ear infection. The wax produced in the middle ear helps in preventing the bacteria from entering. However, due to the infection, the wax can no longer perform its task of removing the bacteria or any other organisms present. Also, this condition may lead to pus drainage in the middle ear, causing a higher rate of wax production and buildup.

3. Ear Candling

Ear candling is an alternative method used for cleaning the ears, which uses hollow cones of beeswax or paraffin. However, studies showed that this procedure is not recommended and can be the answer to your question “what causes excess ear wax”. This can burn portions of the ear, causing its residues to remain inside. This debris in the ear canal can also increase the rate of wax production as an immediate response to lubricate the damages that has occurred due to candling.

4. Ear Blockage

The blockage of the ear can lead to impaction of the earwax. This may cause the wax to be pushed down deeper into the ear canal. Some of the common blockages include the use of Q-tips, cotton swabs, and other objects like bobby pins. The frequent use of earphones can also increase the buildup of earwax since these prevent release and cause the blockage.

How to Get Rid of Excess Ear Wax?

Removing the excess ear wax should be done with proper care and caution as it can cause a more severe damage to the ears. Here are some of the ways that you can try yourself to get rid of the excess earwax in your ears.

1. Softening the earwax

After knowing “what causes excess ear wax”, you would like to know how to fix it. Then try this. In order to soften the earwax, you can use over the counter drops and medications that are specially created and suited for this condition. Other substances can also be used including baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and carbamide peroxide. These softening agents should be drained out of the ear after five minutes for better earwax removal.

2. Ear irrigation

Ear irrigation can be used to remove earwax buildup in the ear. However, it should not be done if there is ear injury as it may damage the ear drum, leading to infection and even hearing loss. Follow these steps carefully to properly irrigate the ear.

•  Stand or sit in an upright position.

•  Gently hold the outside of the ear while pulling it upward.

•  Using a bulb-type syringe, flush a stream of water to the ear. The water used should not be cold nor warm.

•  Tip the head to allow the water to drain.

This method can be done several times to help ease the condition and prevent further occurrence. Avoid using forced water as it may lead to severe damage to the eardrum.

When to Seek Medical Help?

Some people don’t necessarily need frequent medical assistance in removing earwax. According to a health clinic, annual cleaning from a medical doctor is already enough to ensure the better condition of the ears. If there are cases wherein there is a failure to clear the wax through home removal and further ear irritation were experienced, the need to seek and consult medical help and treatment increases. This is essential to give the best treatments possible. In the following severe cases, it is better to get help from the otolaryngologist or ear-nose-throat specialist (ENT) for better assessment.

Instead of asking what causes excess ear wax, go to the medical doctor if:

•   Your home remedy is ineffective.

•   You have suspected perforation in the eardrum due to infection, injury, noise, or pressure,

•   You already develop drainage in the ear

•   You are experiencing fever, severe pain, and hearing loss.

Go to the nearest hospital if:

•   You are having loss of balance, severe spinning sensation or unable to walk.

•   You are experiencing persistent vomiting and high fever.

•   You are having a sudden hearing loss.

The medical doctor will examine the inner ear using an otoscope which is a lighted instrument equipped with a magnifier. It will allow better visuals of the inner ear in order to determine which procedure best fits the patient. In removing the wax buildup, the doctor may use irrigation method, suction method, or a curette instrument. It is important to follow the doctor’s advice strictly to make the condition better and to regain the normal hearing.

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