Earwax, also known medically as cerumen, is a substance produced in the outer part of the ear canal, consisting of oil, dead skin, hair, bacteria, and trapped moisture. Our bodies produce it to protect our ears from water, dirt, insects, fungi, bacteria, and foreign objects. The amount of earwax produced, as well as its colour and consistency, varies from person to person. Earwax comes in wet and dry forms. Wet earwax contains more lipids, which are important substances in our bodies that protect the structure and function of living cells. They are made up of fats and oils. On the other hand, the proportion of lipids in dry earwax is lower. Earwax has both lubricating and antibacterial properties, and a healthy amount of earwax can reduce inflammation. However, too much earwax can lead to ear infections, which is why ear wax removal is important.

Symptoms of Excessive Earwax

When your body produces too much earwax or it is unable to remove earwax normally, you may experience these signs and symptoms.

What Causes Earwax Buildup?

Excessive earwax can be caused by many factors. Firstly, a narrow ear shape can affect how earwax is removed; because natural ear wax removal is achieved through chewing or talking, a narrow ear shape may interfere with the natural removal of earwax. Earwax overproduction can also be a major factor; it can be caused by trauma, trapped water, or other unknown causes. Swimmers may produce more earwax, and those who wear hearing aids may have more earwax accumulating in their ears because the hearing aids prevent earwax from falling out naturally.

Other risk factors include:

What Should You Do?

Treatment

It is crucial to seek medical treatment at an ENT specialist clinic if you experience earwax buildup or impacted earwax. This is because earwax blockage can lead to hearing loss, irritation, pain, dizziness, and other problems that will affect your quality of life. There are three earwax removal methods that ENT specialists may recommend.

  1. Ear Drops

    Ear wax removal Singapore Ear Drops

    For mild cases, the ENT specialist will prescribe ear drops to soften the wax and make it easier to remove. This can usually be done at home. The earwax will gradually soften and come out on its own. However, persons with perforated eardrums or an active ear infection should not use this earwax removal method

  2. Suctioning Under Microscopic Guidance

    If irrigation is not an option or is unsuccessful, the ENT specialist will recommend manual removal or microsuction. Earwax removal is done using small instruments under a microscope to ensure maximum safety.

Prevention and Things to Take Note of

  1. Do not stick foreign objects or cotton buds into the ears to clean them

  2. Seek medical attention if your have hearing loss, ear fullness or ear pain

  3. Avoid wearing earplugs, hearing aids or earbuds for more than eight hours at night

  4. Get a routine ear cleaning done by a professional every six months to a year

Although earwax is produced to protect you, too much of it can cause multiple problems. Always take care of your ears gently and seek medical attention if you notice any symptoms of earwax buildup or blockage.

Dr Jenica Yong is an ENT specialist in Singapore with a team of experienced healthcare professionals ready to resolve your ear, nose and throat conditions. Schedule your consultation with us today.

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