What causes ear wax?

Learn more about the causes of excessive ear wax.

ear wax removal using microsuction

What causes excessive ear wax?

In most people, earwax is helpful. It moves down the ear canal and falls out, taking unwanted debris with it. But sometimes ear wax gets stuck and blocks your ear canal, which can affect your hearing.

In this article, we explore the causes of excessive or impacted ear wax and explain how it can be safely and gently removed by a qualified specialist.

What can cause earwax to build up?

What is ear wax?

Earwax is made by small glands in the outer third of the ear canal. It’s job is to protect your ears from infections, excessive moisture, dust, and dirt by moving it down and out of the ear canal.

What can cause earwax to build up or become impacted?

All of the following may cause excessive or impacted ear wax:

  • Overactive wax glands.
  • Skin or bone infections.
  • Narrow ear canals or unusual ear canal anatomy.
  • Getting older – our glands produce a drier earwax that doesn’t discharge as readily as we get older.
  • Attempting to remove earwax with something like a cotton bud which can actually compact and push the wax further into the ear canal.
  • Wearing hearing aids or earphones/earbuds that can prevent wax from working its natural way out of the ear canal.

How can I safely remove ear wax?

If your ears become fully blocked with ear wax, sound can’t travel down its usual pathway to your eardrum, and you may experience hearing difficulties. Blocked ears also increase the chance of infections as moisture can build up behind the wax, producing ideal conditions for bacteria and fungi.

Therefore, if you are struggling to hear or your ears feel blocked, you may benefit from ear wax removal. However, earwax should only ever be removed by a fully-trained professional.

At your Hearing consultants, we use an ear wax micro-suction system, called the Tympa System, to safely and comfortably remove wax and debris from your ears.

To soften any ear wax, you will be advised to use olive oil spray or drops for at least 3 days before your appointment, thus making the procedure as comfortable as possible.

We then take before and after photos of the procedure, so you can be confident that your ears are clear. Plus, once your ear wax removal is completed, our qualified specialist will check your hearing to ensure everything is as it should be.

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