Earwax build-up, or cerumen impaction, is a common and often overlooked cause of hearing loss. Over time, earwax can accumulate in the ear canal and create a blockage that impedes sound from entering the inner ear.
This can lead to difficulty understanding speech and other environmental sounds, impacting the quality of life.
Understanding Cerumen Impaction
“Cerumen impaction” refers to the hardening and blockage of earwax in the ear canal. This can lead to a sensation of fullness, reduced hearing, tinnitus, itching, pain, discharge, and dizziness.
Please keep in mind that seeking medical assistance may not always be necessary for earwax buildup. Some cases can be treated with ear drops that can be bought without a prescription or by flushing warm water into the ears with a bulb syringe.
If the methods mentioned earlier fail to bring desired results or the build-up in your ear has worsened, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) for further assessment.
Causes of Cerumen Impaction
Cerumen impaction may occur due to several reasons such as the overproduction of earwax, the use of hearing aids or earplugs, and the presence of foreign objects in the ear canal.
Additionally, certain medical conditions like Down syndrome, eczema or psoriasis, and changes in the skin around the ears due to ageing could also result in cerumen impaction.
Sometimes, the shape of the ear canal could also be a factor in preventing cerumen from leaving naturally.
Cerumen Impaction and Hearing Loss
Excessive ear wax buildup can obstruct the ear canal and hinder sound transmission, resulting in partial and temporary hearing loss.
If left untreated, prolonged impaction might cause permanent hearing damage. Therefore, it is advisable to visit an ENT specialist if the symptoms persist or aggravate in due course.
Treatment for Cerumen Impaction
Treating cerumen impaction varies according to how severe the blockage is. Often, you can handle it yourself by utilizing non-prescription ear drops or by flushing the ear canal with lukewarm water via a bulb syringe.
If the methods fail, it is best to consult an ENT specialist to have the wax safely and efficiently extracted with special instruments. If the wax is too built up or there are structural abnormalities with the ear canal, surgery may be required.
If you have symptoms of earwax buildup, it is essential to see an audiologist promptly to avoid permanent hearing loss. Regular ear cleaning can also help prevent buildup and ensure your ears remain healthy.
However, it is important to be careful to use the appropriate ear-cleaning techniques and products to avoid damaging the sensitive ear canal tissue. By properly managing cerumen impaction, you can ensure that your hearing remains intact and maintain a better quality of life.