Earwax or cerumen in the ear canal is normal. A thin layer of earwax acts as a lubricant and provides antibacterial properties. The ear canal has glands that produce earwax. The absence of earwax may result in dry, itchy ears.
Earwax is meant to work its way out of the ear canal with jaw movement from talking and chewing. Ideally, the ear canals should never need cleaning . However, wax blockage can occur from attempts to clean the ear canal with cotton swabs. The risk of using cotton swabs is that people often push the earwax deeper into the ear canal, causing an occlusion of the ear canal, or an ear ache. For those who wear hearing aids or use ear plugs, ear wax can be pushed deeper into the ear canal causing decreased hearing, a plugged or fullness sensation.
An Audiologist or physician can examine the ear canal and identify earwax. Over-the-counter ear drops made of hydrogen peroxide and mineral oil may soften earwax, however, these drops do not eliminate or dissolve the earwax. Flushing the ear canal with a bulb syringe filled with lukewarm water or having it removed by a trained professional may be necessary. Never attempt to irrigate your ear if you have an ear injury or have had a medical or surgical procedure performed on your ear.
If you suspect you have earwax buildup or blockage, see your Audiologist or your physician.