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Does Earwax Removal Hurt?
Got an “ear-full” and are wondering if earwax removal hurts? Here’s what you need to know.
Earwax is good for you, but too much of it can cause problems — including a degree of hearing loss, as many people know all too well. Lots of people try home remedies for earwax removal when they have a buildup of the substance in their ears, but others have to seek medical attention, leaving them to wonder if earwax removal hurts and if the procedure is uncomfortable.
Before we get to that, let’s take a look at earwax and what its purpose is.
Earwax — officially called cerumen — is secreted by the glands lining the outer ear or ear canal. Its function is to protect against anything that might harm the delicate structure of the inner ear. Earwax is a fatty substance designed to prevent intruders such as dust, bacteria and even foreign bodies from travelling further down the ear canal.
As well as helping to fight off infection and keep debris away, earwax also serves as a moisturising substance, keeping the outer parts of the ears from drying out. People who don’t have enough earwax often experience dry ears that may be itchy, and they’re more likely to get ear infections. Older earwax will eventually move to the outer part of the ear, drying up and falling out, taking anything it has trapped along with it.
What Causes Earwax to Build Up?
If everything is normal — you’re secreting an adequate amount of earwax, and after a while, it migrates to the outer ear and falls out — there’s nothing to worry about. The problem is that not everyone produces the same amount of earwax, and many people find their ear canal glands make too much of the substance. This leads to a lot of people trying to poke and prod the wax out of their ears, often resulting in negative consequences.
Impacted earwax, or “buildup”, is commonly caused by using cotton buds or anything else to try and dislodge the wax and coax it out of the ear. The result is that rather than removing the earwax, it’s pushed further down the ear canal, and there’s a big blockage you just can’t get rid of. Even something as relatively innocuous as using earphones or earbuds can also cause impacted earwax as they can prevent earwax from naturally falling out of your ears.
Earwax problems can also be caused by various conditions such as bone growths known as osteomas or exostoses; swimmer’s ear, where water stays in the ear after swimming and the overly moist environment becomes a bacterial breeding ground; skin diseases like eczema; lupus, an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation; an ear canal that’s too narrow; and various kinds of injury.
How Do You Know If You’ve Got Too Much Earwax?
If you’re having problems with one or both ears, it might be due to a buildup of earwax. Symptoms of impacted earwax include:
- A ringing in the ear (known as tinnitus) or a buzzing sound.
- Trouble with your hearing that comes on suddenly.
- A feeling that your ear is somewhat full.
If you have any of these signs, it’s best to seek medical attention instead of dealing with it yourself, as you risk making the problem worse.
Many people put up with buzzing or ringing in their ears, thinking there’s nothing they can do about it, but relief could come from something as simple as medical earwax removal. After a brief procedure, they can have crystal-clear hearing once again, dramatically restoring their quality of life.
Ignoring earwax buildup and hoping it will go away is not advisable, as impacted earwax can lead to infection, and this can cause persistent pain in the ear canal. You could also suffer ongoing hearing loss as well as dizziness, fever, coughing spells and other issues caused by the infection — such as drainage or discharge coming from your ear due to the presence of bacteria or viruses.
How Is Earwax Medically Removed?
There are many different methods that medical professionals use to effectively get rid of earwax. At Regain Hearing, one of the options popular with our patients is microsuction. It’s a fast and pain-free way of dealing with earwax, and it only involves a special machine that gently sucks the wax out of the ear. It can be done at one of our clinics or in the comfort of your home.
However, if there is a lot of earwax that has built up over a long period, shifting it may require a different and slightly more aggressive approach. This is when we might use earwax irrigation, which is where water is flushed through the ear to dislodge earwax and clean out the ear canal. It’s possible to use irrigation along with microsuction, starting with the latter and then moving on to irrigation to make sure there’s nothing left in the ear that might cause trouble later on.
So Does Earwax Removal Hurt?
If you’re still wondering if ear wax removal is painful? the answer is no. It’s a safe and effective treatment that’s done in around half an hour, and it doesn’t require any special medication or anaesthesia to deal with pain or discomfort. In fact, you’ll hardly feel anything at all. It will be over in a flash, leaving you to get on with your life with your hearing restored and any other issues with your ear caused by earwax buildup resolved.
It’s important to note that earwax is necessary for good ear health, and you don’t need to constantly clean out your ears with cotton buds or anything else. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to clean the inside of your ears at all, as they’re self-cleaning. All you ever need to do is occasionally clean the outer part of your ear with a cloth to wipe away any traces of earwax.
So-called trendy solutions like ear candles should certainly be avoided — having a flame around your head is not a good idea, and often, ear candles can make earwax problems worse.
You need a level of earwax to protect your ear and keep it moist. It’s only in situations where it builds up to a certain level, as outlined above, that it can become problematic and require removal. And then, almost always, you need a professional to get rid of it.
Earwax removal is a pain-free and effective treatment. Book your specialist earwax removal with Regain Hearing now.