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What Causes Earwax Buildup

Some people are simply prone to producing excessive earwax. Overproduction of earwax does not always lead to blockage, but when it does it can be quite uncomfortable, or even painful. The most common cause of earwax blockage is a failed attempt at at-home earwax removal.

Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other foreign objects in an attempt to clean your ears or remove earwax often does more harm than good. Additionally, frequent use of headphones can promote earwax buildup and the pressure from heavy use can result in blockage.

How To Get Rid Of Earwax Build-Up

Symptoms of Earwax Buildup

Earwax can vary in color from light yellow to dark brown. Darker colored earwax does not, however, indicate that there is a blockage present. Symptoms of earwax buildup include:

  • Sudden or partial hearing loss that is usually temporary
  • Tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Earache

If you are prone to overproduction of earwax, excessive earwax left within the ear structure can lead to infection. You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe ear pain
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Lasting hearing loss
  • A strange smell or odor coming from your ear
  • Dizziness

Some of these symptoms could be an indication of a more severe problem. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact South Florida ENT Associates immediately to schedule an appointment for treatment.

Preventing Earwax Buildup

Is it safe to clean out your ears with cotton swabs? Many patients think they're helping clean their ears when they insert cotton swabs, paper clips, bobby pins, or any number of foreign objects into their ears. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. Anything that passes into the ear canal can ultimately rupture the ear drum and cause permanent hearing loss. Preventing earwax buildup begins with keeping the earwax soft so your body can naturally remove it.

  • Fill an eye dropper with mineral, olive, or baby oil
  • Tilt your head to position the affected ear toward the ceiling
  • Apply a few drops into the ear canal
  • Maintain the position of your head for 3 to 4 minutes so the oil can penetrate the ear canal
  • Tilt your head so the affected ear is pointing toward the floor, allowing the excess oil to drain from the ear
  • Repeat this procedure two times each day for 4 to 5 days

On its own, this procedure may be enough to prevent excessive earwax from building up.

How to Treat Earwax Buildup

It is very tempting to try to treat earwax buildup at home, but we offer a word of caution. Please don't attempt home remedies for earwax removal. The best way to ensure the safety of your ears is to allow a Specialist from South Florida ENT Associates to examine your earwax buildup and determine the best course of treatment.

Most people do not need to see a medical professional frequently for the treatment of excessive earwax buildup. A once-a-year cleaning at your doctor's office should be sufficient to maintain ear health and the appropriate balance of wax in your ears. If you do frequently experience earwax buildup, it is important to be examined by a medical professional to ensure that there isn't an underlying condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

A Warning about Ear Candles

The recent popularity of ear candles is quite troubling. Ear candles are marketed and sold to the public as a means of treating earwax buildup by removing earwax from the ears. It is important to note, however, that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings to consumers that ear candles may not be safe to use.

The process of ear candling involves inserting a lit hollow candle into the ear, with the notion that suction created by the burning candle will draw earwax out of the ear canal. These candles can result in injury to the ear and the face including:

  • Burns
  • Bleeding
  • Punctured ear drum
  • Burns from dripping wax
  • Fire

These candles are especially dangerous for children. Reports of burns and other injuries are associated with the use of ear candles. As with any procedure for removing wax from the ear, you should always consult the professionals at South Florida ENT Associates before attempting to treat earwax buildup on your own.

Earwax is a natural substance produced by the body and is necessary for your overall health and wellbeing. Even though the substance may at time seem to be a problem, it is ill-advised to attempt to remove anything from your ear using a foreign object. This can lead to many complications for your ear health, up to and including rupture of the eardrum or permanent damage to the eardrum or ear canal.

Medical help is generally necessary only in a very few cases; those in which earwax does not come out of your ear on its own. The professionals at South Florida ENT Associates are here to help, and to answer any questions you may have about preventing and treating earwax buildup.

About South Florida ENT Associates

team of ENT specialists are respected professionals serving the communities of south Florida in ear, nose, and throat diseases and conditions. We offer the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment, including addressing the problem of excessive earwax buildup by irrigating your ear canal with a specialized softening liquid, after which the blockage is removed with irrigation. The procedure is painless and fast. If you suffer from earwax buildup or a blockage, contact our skilled professionals today for help.

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Important Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) View Update Telemedicine Consultations

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Important Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

South Florida ENT Associates (SFENTA) is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients, clinicians, and employees, particularly among the recent concern and outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. We are continuing to respond to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Public Health from each state, which are closely monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19.

In-office Guidelines & Preventive Measures

Across our network, SFENTA is implementing safety precautions to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health of our patients, employees, and visitors. These preventive measures include:

  • Informational flyers for posting on the outside door, patient waiting room (Click here for ES) and for call center and front office employees – all these should be placed in highly visible areas. If a patient advises the staff that they have traveled outside the country to an affected area or have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19, please follow protocol as mentioned in the call center and front office flyer.
  • Patients to be limited to bringing only one visitor with them into our offices.
  • Procedures will not be performed on patients known or suspected to have COVID-19.
  • SFENTA is also working with our referring providers to request they do not send patients known or suspected of having the COVID-19 virus to any of our offices.

Patient Guidelines Regarding the Coronavirus & Flu-like Symptoms

As a current patient, if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (i.e., cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat), please call your care center location and ask to speak to a staff member who can guide you with more information and treatment suggestions.

We ask that you DO NOT come into the office for any pre-scheduled appointments if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.

In addition, if you are not experiencing flu-like symptoms, but have traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days, contact a member of our triage staff to determine whether you should come into one of our care centers.

It is our goal to keep all of our patients healthy , reduce the spread of infection, and to make sure you have accurate information. We will continue to keep this site updated as more information becomes available.

Guidelines for You and Your Family

  • There is still time to get a flu shot. This is strongly suggested, as the flu season is still here and the symptoms are very similar.
  • Make sure to wash your hands continuously for 20 seconds and keep hands away from your face; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick!
  • Always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Please note that the overall immediate health risk from the coronavirus is still considered low. People in areas where ongoing community spread of the virus has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low, risk of exposure.

However, healthcare workers caring for patients with the COVID-19 and others in close contact with infected persons are at a greater risk of exposure. Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring are also at elevated risk of exposure.

The CDC believes the virus may appear between 2-14 days after exposure. There is no vaccine and treatment is supportive. The virus is spread person to person mainly by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to other respiratory pathogens like influenza.

Together, South Florida ENT Associates will continue monitoring and preparing to meet the current challenge in order to ensure our staff and patients receive the same quality of care they deserve. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients, clinicians, and employees

Additional Information and Resources

The CDC believes the virus symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure. There is no vaccine and treatment is supportive. The virus is spread person to person mainly by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to other respiratory pathogens like influenza.

For more information, visit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Official Information on COVID-19