EAR WAX 101Although, the scientists are not sure why we produce ear wax, glands in the ear canal produce wax for the purpose of trapping dust or other small particles from reaching and damaging or infecting the eardrum.  While a moderate amount of wax is good, little or too much ear wax can increase the risk of infection and can be painful.

Our body normally moves out the ear wax it produces with the help of the jaw movement, dislodging the debris or dust stuck in the ear to the outer ear where it dries and falls out without our noticing it.  However when there is an impaction something extra has to be done to help it move along.

Signs that you have wax buildup.  If you experience a sense of fullness in the ears, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), ear pain, decreased hearing, coughing, itching, or discharge from the ear canal, chances are you have ear wax impaction.

What causes it.  Excess build up of ear wax could be due to narrowing of ear canal from infections and diseases, over production of wax due to trauma or infection.  Alternatively genetic factors also play a huge role in it.

Excess wax from your ears can be removed by:

Softening the wax.  Apply a few drops of baby oil, glycerin, or hydrogen peroxide using dropper in your ear canal twice a day for four to five days.

Irrigation.  After four to five days, using a rubber-bulb syringe gently squirt warm, salted water into your ear canal. Tilt your head so that the drops can irrigate your ears properly.  After some time tilt your head to the side for the water to drain out.

Dry your ear canal.  Once the water has drained out, dry your ear gently with a towel.

This procedure may need to be repeated several times before the excess earwax gets dislodged.  In severe cases sometimes the ear wax may lodge itself deeper into the ear canal or against the eardrum.  In spite of the above measures if the ear wax persists then see your doctor.

These simple procedures can be done at home, however if you have a perforated ear drum or grommets in your ear do not do these.  On doing so you are risking the chances of further injury or infection.

For individuals with a tendency towards ear wax buildup, regular clearance will help in avoiding massive painful buildup.  Your doctor will prescribe over-the-counter wax softeners available in the form of drops.  These drops are a combination of water and peroxide to dislodge small amounts of ear wax.

A large amount of impacted wax may need professional intervention like:

Microsuction.  This is a noisy and sometimes uncomfortable technique using gentle suction and instruments.  It is performed under direct vision using microscope.


Aural toilet.  Here a specialist uses an instrument called Jobson Horne probe to remove the earwax manually.  It is usually carried out on patient with frequent infection of the ear canal.

However, as done commonly at home, never use cotton-tipped swabs as they can push ear wax deeper into your ear.  They also can also perforate or injure your eardrum.

Also, the dangerous practice of ear candling should not be done.  Never use candles to remove wax because they can burn or cause obstruction of the ear canal with candle wax.

A lot of over-the-counter ear wax removal kits are available in the market to help one along this process.  Doctors do not advise removal wax frequently, and state that on an average a person should clear his ears couple of times in a year.  An average person does not need frequent ear wax removal until it is a cause of discomfort.