Earwax can be a nuisance. Clogged ears are unpleasant to talk about and even less so to experience. While earwax has an important function in your body, when things go wrong it can cause blockages in your ears that can be uncomfortable or even painful.
If you?ve had a change in hearing along with pressure in your ears or your hearing feels like you?re underwater, you might be experiencing a blockage caused by a buildup of earwax. So how should you deal with your earwax? And what should you expect from a professional ear cleaning? Here?s everything you need to know!
Why do I have earwax?
While it can be annoying and frankly, gross, earwax actually serves a useful purpose. Your ears have a complex structure that uses different parts to allow sound to reach the brain. Any foreign object or debris that enters the ear can disrupt the flow of sound to the eardrum which can hurt your hearing. The ceruminous gland in the outer portion of your ear canal creates a defense: cerumen, or earwax!
Millennia ago, our ancestors relied on earwax to keep dirt, debris, and even insects and pests out of their ears while out in the wild. It continues to serve the same purpose for us today. Your ears clean themselves, too! As your body heats up, the wax in your ears loosens and ?flows? out of your ear like a tiny amount of melting candle wax.
So why do I have clogged ears?
Like any other part of your body, this doesn?t always work as intended. When it doesn?t flow out of your ear properly, earwax begins to build up. When this happens, you may feel a pressure or itching in your ears and possibly a change in your hearing. Your ears may feel like they?re underwater or your hearing might become duller on one side. There is generally no pain involved – if there is, it?s usually the result of trying to unclog the ear unsafely.
There are many reasons people get clogged ears, some natural, some not. Some people are naturally more prone to building up earwax that can result in clogged ears. Earbuds and earplugs can also contribute to blockages. But how you deal with your earwax plays a big role, too.
We don?t recommend putting anything in your ear that?s smaller than your elbow. In other words, don?t put anything in your ear! Ear cleaning is best left to a professional who can do it safely and thoroughly.
Many people use cotton swabs, commonly called Q-Tips, to clean out their ears. But this is NOT their intended use – it even says so on the package! While they may seem like an easy way to clean your ear canal and wipe out the wax, they?re likely to push wax further into your ear and cause a buildup or blockage.
Over-the-counter products like ear drops may be designed to loosen your earwax, but they can also cause it to settle further inside your ear, potentially making your clogged ears even worse. Natural remedies like ear candles can be harmful too. These ear candles claim to draw wax out of your ear, but in fact they can burn the inside or your ears – not to mention your hair, your skin, your clothes, your furniture, and your house.
What can I expect from an ear cleaning?
So if these home solutions don?t work or are harmful, what should you do to clear up your clogged ears? The answer is: seek a professional ear cleaning! When your ears are nice and clean afterwards, you?ll be glad you did.
Professionals like audiologists, ENTs, and primary care doctors offer ear cleanings. At The Hill Hear Better Clinic, we offer two different methods to clear clogged ears. Which one we use depends on the severity of the wax buildup. We?re ear cleaning specialists and can remove wax that even your doctor may struggle with!
Video otoscopy allows us to see inside your ear and easily remove wax using a curette. We may pull the wax out bit by bit, or it may come in chunks. You can watch on screen with us as we clear your ear of wax. Some people find it interesting or satisfying to watch! Feeling the curette in your ear can be uncomfortable, but may only involve pain if you?ve tried to clean your ears yourself and caused irritation to them.
If the wax in your ear is muddy, swampy, or hard to reach, we remove it using warm water irrigation. We?ll flush your ears with warm water, a feeling that can be refreshing. It can also be an odd sensation, as you?ll have water rushing through your ear for a period of time. A tool called the Earigator allows us to get deep inside your ears and remove tough wax in hard-to-reach places. As with the curette, there should be no pain involved in the process unless irritation occurred prior to our cleaning.
What should I expect to pay?
An ear wax removal procedure by an audiologist is considered an out-of-pocket expense and isn?t covered by insurance. You may be covered if you have the procedure done by your primary care doctor, but you?ll find reasonable, affordable prices and higher quality specialized care at The Hill Hear Better Clinic.
If you?re experiencing clogged ears, don?t wait and hope for it to get better or, worse, try to fix them yourself! Give us a call or book online to set up an affordable, effective ear wax removal appointment at The Hill Hear Better Clinic.