Wanna learn a new word? "Cerumen." Wikipedia explains it this way:
"Earwax, also known by the medical term cerumen, is a yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It protects the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Excess or impacted cerumen can press against the eardrum and/or occlude the external auditory canal, usually hindering hearing."
When you visit the ENT Center of Austin to get your goo removed, realize you're not alone. Nearly one-third of our patients drop by to get their earwax eliminated. The ear is a pretty delicate place. Sure, you can get a bulb and try to DIY it, but going over-the-counter doesn't work for everyone. In some cases, it can truly muck things up.
You're not going deaf. Most likely it's a build-up of the junk that you've naturally produced. A warning though: You don't want to make matters go south when you pretend you're an otolaryngologist.
How we do it is by employing a procedure called micro-suctioning. Our specialists use a microscope to probe your ear canal. One thing we're looking for is any signs that your ear drum has been damaged. Once we see that all is well in the world, our doctors take out this really tiny vacuum cleaner. We suck out any accumulated wax. It some cases, we find the one-time pliable substance has hardened, effectively making a plug. That's when we bring out the sterile alligator clamps.
Then we send you home with something like olive oil drops that you sparingly dribble down your ear hole once-a-week.
We Don't Recommend It, But You Can Try
When removing your own ear wax it's probably best to ask your spouse for a hand. We suggest this because most people can't remove their eyeballs to see what they are doing to themselves. This process is called "syringing."
They'll initially need to use a few drops of olive oil in one ear. The syringe looks a lot like a small version of a turkey baster. Put some warm -- not hot -- water in the bulb and slowly trickle it into your ear. This should help in flushing the loose wax out of the canal.
But It's Not Always Safe
If you ever have any pain in your ear, don't put anything in the fragile holes. Hearing a ringing sound? Could be tinnitus. There's nothing a lay person can do about that except book an appointment with ENT Center of Austin.
Cotton swabs? Ear candling? Stop right there. You'll end-up pushing the stuff even further down the tubes. That could become a real bummer. And putting hot wax into the area could entirely blow-out your ear drums.
Please, if you ever experience any issues with your ears, leave it to a doctor. Not only will they help with any obstructions. Who knows, they might even find that crayon you shoved in there when you were a kid. Removing that will give you the hearing of a hunting dog.
Image Source: Northwestern University