There are times, however, when earwax can get out of control and become a problem in your ear. Exorbitant amounts of earwax and earwax blockages occur in about 5 percent of adults. Why does this happen and how can you get rid of earwax buildup?

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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.

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.

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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 eardrum 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 to examine your earwax buildup and determine the best course of treatment. At South Florida ENT Associates, we have a team of top ENT doctors and otolaryngologists in Miami and surrounding cities who can make a professional diagnosis as to the correct 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.

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About South Florida ENT Associates

Our 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.

A Waring 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 eardrum
  • 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 times 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.

With 37 convenient locations across the South Florida area, we’re never far away.

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