Let's Talk About Wax Baby!
“Let’s talk about wax baby,
let’s talk about you and me,
let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be,
let’s talk about wax”!
Thanks to Salt-N- Pepa circa 1990 we were all talking about sex, now as an Audiologist circa 2021, all I seem to talk about is wax – I didn’t see that one coming!
Wax or cerumen is that stuff in our ears that most of us don’t give a second thought to, until we start struggling to hear. If hearing problems occur, then most of us assume that our ears are probably blocked with wax. This may be true and a logical assumption to make, so making an appointment with your Audiologist to have this checked is recommended. Other symptoms of wax build up include itchiness, crackling sounds, ear discomfort, increased awareness of tinnitus (sounds perceived in the ear but with no actual external sound source), dizziness and fullness of the ear to name a few.
Wax, however, is usually our friend as it provides a beneficial service to our body by means of protection. Dust and other foreign particles are trapped in the wax and thus protect the ear drum or Tympanic Membrane and help maintain healthy hearing.
The natural movement of the jaw when eating and speaking helps facilitate the removal of the ear wax by pushing it outwards from the ear drum. This natural process takes about 3-4 months to move out the wax as it is generated or about the same speed as our fingernails grow. We often disrupt this natural ‘conveyor belt’ system by trying to speed up the process - frequently by means of cotton buds or other implements (of which you should NEVER push into your ear canals).
Of course, problems with wax build up do occur. Differences in our anatomies can result in some of us producing more wax than others; some of us have hairier ear canals than others; others have more angular ear canals - all which contribute to the trapping of ear wax. For those prone to wax build up, the regular use of a few olive oil drops is usually enough to keep the wax nice and soft but for more stubborn wax, a visit to your Audiologist or GP is required.
There are three typical methods for wax removal: Mechanical Removal using instruments such as curettes or loop, Irrigation which uses water flushed into the ear canal and removal by Microsuction which uses a low powered suction probe. We can provide all three methods during our home visits and in most cases this results in successful wax removal after just one visit.
Image 1 shows an ear canal blocked with ear wax prior to wax removal and Image 2 shows the ear canal clear of wax post wax removal:
Image 1 Image 2
Whilst we may not have produced a hit record here, we do hope we have provided you with a little ‘wax education’ to better understand your ear wax build up! In short - wax is our friend and if it is not causing you any problems - leave it alone, but if it is then contact your Audiologist or GP for help with removing it.