Everyone has cerumen, which is also called earwax. It's just that, your ears may feel full, oozing fluid until you sometimes have difficulty hearing sound. This may be a symptom of earwax blockage, or cerumen impaction. By checking whether your ear is blocked and treating it at home or with the help of a doctor, you can treat this impacted cerumen.
Part 1 of 2: Overcoming Ear Cerumen Blockage at Home
Step 1. Understand the risk factors for ear cerumen blockage
There are some people who have never had a problem with ear wax. While some other people are more susceptible to experiencing it. Knowing these risk factors can help you determine if your ear is clogged with cerumen.
- Users of hearing aids or earplugs are at greater risk of developing cerumen blockage.
- People who use earplugs or insert objects into their ears are more at risk of developing cerumen blockage.
- Elderly and people with developmental disabilities are more at risk of developing cerumen blockage.
- People with certain ear canal shapes that make it difficult for the body to naturally clean the cerumen.
Step 2. Check if you have cerumen blockage
The best way to confirm this is to see a doctor. However, you may want to try home remedies first. Before starting any home remedies for cerumen blockage, you should make sure that this blockage is actually happening. This is to avoid dangerous treatments or to make sure your ears don't have other problems, such as infections.
You can buy a special flashlight (otoscope) for ordinary users (not doctors) to see inside the ear for IDR 150,000-Rp 450,000 at a pharmacy or the internet. Ask a family member or friend to check your ears with this tool
Step 3. Recognize the symptoms of impacted cerumen
Determining whether you have impacted cerumen can be easily done by recognizing the symptoms. From the sensation of fullness to discharge from the ear, there are several things that indicate a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed.
- A feeling of fullness or a blocked sensation in the ear may accompany impacted cerumen. Your ears may also feel itchy.
- A ringing sound in the ear called tinnitus may also accompany cerumen blockage.
- Some of your hearing may be impaired and worsen as a result of impacted cerumen.
- You may experience earache or mild pain due to cerumen blockage.
- A watery, waxy fluid may come out of the ear following impacted cerumen.
- The ears may also have a slight odor.
- If you have severe ear pain, fever, or a discharge that looks or smells like pus coming out of your ear, you should see a doctor to make sure you don't have an ear infection.
Step 4. Wipe the outside of the ear
You can clean the outside of the ear canal with a cloth or tissue. This step can help clear any fluid or cerumen that has drained out of the ear.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe the outside of the ear and the external ear canal. If you want, you can slightly dampen the cloth with warm water.
- Wrap a tissue around your finger and gently rub it over your outer ear and outer ear canal.
Step 5. Use over-the-counter ear drops to clean the cerumen
Use a cerumen cleanser on the ear with a small or moderate amount of cerumen. This medication can help clear clogged cerumen.
- Most over-the-counter ear drops are oil and peroxide solutions.
- Hydrogen peroxide won't dissolve the cerumen, but it will help it flow through the ear canal.
- Be sure to follow the instructions for use on the product packaging to prevent the problem from getting worse.
- If you have a perforated eardrum or suspect this is the case, do not use over-the-counter ear drops.
- You can buy cerumen-cleansing drops at most pharmacies and major convenience stores.
Step 6. Try using oil or glycerin ear drops to thin the cerumen
In addition to using over-the-counter ear drops, you can also use homemade oil or glycerin to clear cerumen blockages. This treatment can soften the ear wax so that it is easier to remove from inside the ear canal.
- You can use mineral oil or baby oil. Pour a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil into each ear canal and let it sit for a few minutes before removing it.
- You can also try using olive oil. However, one study showed that water was more effective at cleaning ear wax than olive oil.
- There are no studies that determine how often oil or glycerin drops should be used, but they should be used no more than a few times a week.
Step 7. Perform ear irrigation
Irrigation, which is sometimes referred to as syringing, is one of the most commonly used methods of removing cerumen plugs from the ear. Try cleaning your ears with this irrigation action if the cerumen blockage is quite heavy or stubborn. You may need the help of friends or family in this action.
- In this treatment, you will need a medical syringe which can be purchased at most pharmacies.
- Fill the syringe with body temperature water. Using water that is less or more than body temperature can cause dizziness or vertigo.
- Keep your head straight and gently pull the outer ear up to straighten the ear canal.
- Inject a small amount of water into the ear canal that is clogged with cerumen.
- Tilt your head to release the water.
- You may need to perform this procedure several times to clear the impacted cerumen.
- One study showed that injecting a small amount of water or oil into the ear before irrigation can greatly help speed up the clearance of cerumen.
- Never use a dental cleaning tube to irrigate the ear.
Step 8. Suction the ear canal
You can buy a vacuum or a vacuum to clean ear wax. Research shows that these treatments are not effective, but they may help you.
You can buy ear wax suction kits at most pharmacies or large department stores
Step 9. Dry the ears
After clearing the cerumen blockage, you should clean your ears thoroughly. This is useful for preventing infections or other problems in the ear.
- You can use a few drops of medical alcohol to dry the ear.
- A hairdryer that is turned on at a low temperature can also help dry the ears.
Step 10. Avoid cleaning your ears too often or using tools
Understand that cerumen is needed in certain amounts to prevent ear infections. So, avoid cleaning your ears too often or using tools such as earplugs to keep a small amount of cerumen in the ear.
- Only clean your ears when you feel you need them. If you think you need to clean your ears every day, or if you have too much fluid coming out of your ears, see a doctor.
- Using tools such as earplugs or bobby pins can actually push the cerumen into the ear instead of cleaning it, and can lead to infections and other problems.
- Using the device can also puncture the eardrum and lead to infection or hearing loss.
Step 11. Avoid treatment with ear wax
Some holistic or Eastern health practitioners may recommend wax treatments to clear cerumen blockages. Treatments carried out by lighting candles in the ear are considered ineffective and actually dangerous.
If this treatment is performed without the supervision of a professional practitioner, your ear canal may burn, resulting in hearing loss or infection
Step 12. See a doctor if home remedies don't work
If you are unable to remove ear wax, or if the problem worsens after being treated with home remedies, talk to your doctor.
Part 2 of 2: Seeking Professional Treatment
Step 1. Talk about professional treatment options with your doctor
If you are unable to clean the ear wax at home or have other problems such as severe hearing loss, pain, or fluid coming out of the ear, talk to your doctor about options for ear wax cleaning treatments. In this way, you can determine the most effective, mild, and painless treatment to treat impacted cerumen.
Your doctor may recommend medications or home remedies, such as ear drops and irrigation
Step 2. Perform repeated ear canal irrigation
The doctor may decide to treat the cerumen blockage by irrigating the ear canal. This action is useful for softening the cerumen and clearing the blockage causing the discomfort you are feeling.
- The doctor will inject water or another medicinal solution, such as saline, into the ear and allow the solution to soften the cerumen.
- After the water is removed from the ear, the doctor will check whether the blockage has been resolved or should be cleaned with a tool such as a curette.
- During ear irrigation, you may feel a little uncomfortable.
Step 3. Carry out the ear suction procedure
Unlike commercial suction, your doctor will use a stronger suction to clean your ear canal. This action is very effective to clean the cerumen blockage thoroughly.
- The doctor will insert a suction device into the ear canal to remove the cerumen.
- After that, the doctor will check if the blockage has cleared and determine if you need stronger action or treatment to treat the impaction.
- This may cause you some discomfort or some bleeding.
Step 4. Remove the cerumen with a tool
If the cerumen blockage in your ear is very difficult to remove, your doctor may try to remove it with a different tool, such as a cerumen spoon or curette. This treatment will remove the cerumen blockage immediately, and treat the impaction quickly and effectively.
- A curette is a small, thin instrument that the doctor will insert into the ear canal to clear the blockage.
- A cerumen spoon is a small instrument that is inserted into the ear canal to remove the blockage.
- Cleaning the cerumen with a tool may make you feel a little uncomfortable and bleed.
Step 5. Examine the blocked ear with a microscope
Your GP may refer you to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist if he or she is unable to remove the cerumen blockage. An ENT specialist may use a microscope to get a better look at the cerumen blockage in the ear canal. This examination can help the doctor determine the severity of the impaction and whether the blockage has been completely removed.
- To see inside the ear with a microscope, an ENT specialist will insert a metal speculum into the ear canal, then light the microscope light inside.
- The ENT specialist may continue to use a microscope to guide the cerumen cleaning process.
- If you are unsure whether your symptoms are caused by ear wax, see your doctor before trying any home remedies.
- Do not try to pry the ear wax that has hardened as this can actually push the blockage further into the ear.
- If you have ear problems, consult your doctor first before trying to clear the cerumen blockage.