Earwax Removal and the Audiologist
Healthy ears produce earwax. It’s normal and actually beneficial for a number of reasons.
Earwax is produced by the body to keep the ears lubricated, to protect the skin in the ear canals and as an antibacterial and antifungal barrier to harmful debris entering the ear. It’s produced in the ear canal and works its way outwards to the end of the canal. Everyone produces earwax. Some people produce more than others. If earwax doesn’t properly exit the ear canal or if you produce large amounts of earwax it can build-up, harden and cause problems with hearing or even become painful.
Earwax removal in the audiologist office
If earwax is a problem, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. The audiologist can use different techniques to remove earwax safely and comfortably.
- Curette removal method: The audiologist may use a curette to remove earwax. This small tool is specially formed to go in the ear without causing damage. First the audiologist will use a lighted otoscope to look in the ear canal. This allows them to see how much earwax needs to be removed and where it is located. The curette is like a small spoon. The audiologist will use it to gently scrape the earwax out of the ear canal. This is not painful. The audiologist is trained to remove the earwax without damaging the inner ear or causing you any pain.
- Irrigation removal method: An alternative method of earwax removal used by audiologists is irrigation. Audiologists use special medical solutions to first soften and loosen earwax buildup and then water to flush the wax from the canal. The solution most commonly used is a carbamide oxide solution like hydrogen peroxide. The solution releases oxygen and this process releases earwax from the ear canal. Once the wax is loose, it is washed away with water. Audiologists are trained to irrigate the ear canal with just the right amount of pressure. Like curettage, this process is not painful.
Earwax removal at home
Do not place any object smaller than your elbow in your ear canal. Additionally, you should never place anything in your ears to remove wax – including cotton swabs and no candles.
Use a damp washcloth to wipe the outer portion of the ear and remove earwax. If recommended by the audiologist, you can use at-home irrigation. Do not use pressure when irrigating your ears and only use an irrigation kit recommended by your audiologist.