Earwax Build up and Blockage

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What is earwax buildup?

Your ear canal produces a waxy oil called cerumen, which is more commonly known as earwax. This wax protects the ear from dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. It also protects ear canal skin from irritation due to water. In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally, and then is washed away.

When your glands make more earwax than necessary, it may get hard and block the ear. When you clean your ears, you can accidentally push the wax deeper, causing a blockage. Wax buildup is a common reason for temporary hearing loss.

You should take great caution when trying to treat earwax buildup at home.

If you have blocked, irritated or itchy ears, it might be useful to have them examined by our doctor, to see if the problem can be easily remedied using ear micro-suction.

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Causes of earwax buildup

Some people are prone to produce too much earwax. Still, excess wax doesn’t automatically lead to blockage. In fact, the most common cause of earwax blockage is at-home removal. Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in your ear canal can also push wax deeper, creating a blockage.

You’re also more likely to have wax buildup if you frequently use earphones. They can inadvertently prevent earwax from coming out of the ear canals and cause blockages.


Signs and symptoms of earwax buildup

The appearance of earwax varies from light yellow to dark brown. Darker colors don’t necessarily indicate that there’s a blockage.

Signs of earwax buildup include:

  • sudden or partial hearing loss, which is usually temporary
  • tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear
  • a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • earache

Un removed earwax buildup can lead to infection. Contact your doctor if you experience the symptoms of infection, such as:

  • severe pain in your ear
  • pain in your ear that doesn’t subside
  • drainage from your ear
  • fever
  • coughing
  • persistent hearing loss
  • an odor coming from your ear
  • dizziness

It’s important to note that hearing loss, dizziness, and earaches also have many other causes. See your doctor if any of these symptoms are frequent. A full medical evaluation can help determine whether the problem is due to excess earwax or another health issue entirely.

Earwax in children

Children, like adults, naturally produce earwax. While it may be tempting to remove the wax, doing so can damage your child’s ears.

If you suspect your child has earwax buildup or a blockage, it’s best to see a paediatrician. Your child’s doctor may also notice excess wax during regular ear exams and remove it as needed. Also, if you notice your child sticking their finger or other objects in their ear out of irritation, you might want to ask their doctor to check their ears for wax buildup.

Earwax in older adults

Earwax can also be problematic in older adults. Some adults may let wax buildup go until it begins obstructing hearing. In fact, most cases of conductive hearing loss in older adults are caused by earwax buildup. This makes sounds seem muffled. A hearing aid can also contribute to a wax blockage.

How to Treat Earwax Blockage

Ear Micro-suction is a simple, safe and highly effective treatment for excessive earwax. Unlike the ‘blind’ syringing performed by most
doctors, the use of a microscope during ear micro-suction allows the ear wax (and important structures such as the eardrum) to be directly viewed while it is being removed. This provides the following benefits:

  • safe
  • quick
  • comfortable (no pain)
  • no water or any other fluids needed
  • no mess
  • can be used even if the eardrum has been previously perforated
  • can be used to remove foreign bodies from the ear
  • can be useful in removing excessive discharge caused by ear
  • can be used in both children and the elderly


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For more information on Ear Micro-suction or to book an appointment Call: 02 9411 3352