Are you having trouble hearing people when you converse with them, or do you find you have to switch ears when you talk on the phone? Don’t assume it’s progressive hearing loss. It could actually be impacted, or “stuck,” ear wax that can’t be expelled, which 1 in 20 adults experiences.
As an experienced General Practitioner, Dr. Shamala Mohanasundaram regularly performs varied ENT (ear, nose, and throat) procedures, like ear wax removal. This simple fix can make a big difference in the daily ease of your life, and allow you to take one more hassle off your list of uncomfortable inconveniences.
What’s the purpose of earwax?
Most of us are blissfully unaware that our ears produce earwax, or cerumen, and that’s as it should be. It’s produced by glands in the outer portion of your ear canal. Throw in some dead skin cells and hair in addition to the earwax, and it’s easy to see how a blockage could occur.
Earwax serves several important purposes. It:
- Lubricates your ear
- Protects your inner ear
- Possesses antibacterial properties
If you produce a surplus of earwax or it simply doesn’t get expelled as a result of things like chewing, several things can happen. Another cause of the problem is using products like cotton swabs to clean your ears. When you use them, you don’t really get rid of much, but you do push earwax deeper into your ear — not a good thing.
Problems arise when earwax doesn’t empty
Impacted earwax is linked with temporary hearing loss, because with nowhere to go, the wax takes up valuable real estate in your ear canal, making it hard to hear when it really should be easy. In addition to suffering noticeable hearing loss, you might also notice discharge from your ear, itchiness, and periodic ringing in your ear (tinnitus).
You might also suffer earaches or vertigo (dizziness).
Hearing aid users, older adults, people whose ear canal physiology discourages the emptying of ear wax, and individuals with developmental disabilities are at increased risk of having excessive cerumen.
Solutions for earwax-induced hearing loss
Fortunately, Dr. Shamala treats impacted earwax so you can feel comfortable and hear well again. You simply visit our office so Dr. Shamala can examine your ear with a device called an otoscope and talk to you about the symptoms you’re experiencing.
If you haven’t experienced symptoms for long, she might advise waiting to see if the situation resolves on its own or talk to you about your ear-cleaning habits and urge you to stop cleaning your ears with swabs.
If you’ve been suffering for a while, Dr. Shamala performs an ear irrigation procedure, during which she rinses out your ear canal with saline or warm water using a syringe and other tools, like a special cerumen spoon, a suction tool, or forceps. Before she does this, you’re likely to receive a cerumenolytic, or an agent put in your ear that softens the stuck wax to make the task easier.
Even though earwax buildup sounds minor, the hearing loss that can accompany it certainly isn’t.
Call our Los Gatos, California, office at 408-290-8467 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shamala, or contact us through our website.