Most of the time, earwax is a positive thing for your health. A waxy substance, it lines your ear canal, which stretches from your outer ear to your eardrum. Earwax protects the sensitive ear canal from injury, infection and foreign objects, including water.
Wondering what earwax is? It’s made up of dead skin cells and secretions from glands within your ears. When they combine, earwax is created. It only becomes an issue when it builds up within your ear canal. This issue is known as impacted or excessive earwax.
You may be tempted to remove this buildup yourself. This can be very dangerous and cause great damage to your sensitive inner ear. Instead, turn to the friendly and skilled care team at your neighborhood MedExpress. We’ll evaluate your excessive earwax and then either perform an ear irrigation, which involves a syringe of clean water being used to clean the ear canal, or a curette removal, which uses a small plastic loop or spoon to clean the ear canal of any earwax blockage. Both techniques should only be performed by a medical professional.
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You can schedule an appointment online or just walk in any time that’s convenient for you.
What Causes Excessive Earwax?
Earwax is normally removed from the ear canal spontaneously as your body self-cleans the area, which is aided by jaw movement. However, there are times that this process fails, and the earwax builds up within the ear canal and may even completely block it. Excessive earwax impacts 10 percent of children, 5 percent of healthy adults and more than 50 percent of seniors.1
What are the Symptoms of Excessive Earwax?1
The symptoms of this issue may include one or more of the following:
- Difficulty hearing or loss of hearing
- Ear itchiness
- Feeling like the ear is "full"
- Ringing in the ear
When Should You Seek Treatment for Excessive Earwax?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should speak to your provider or visit MedExpress. Additionally, you may have no symptoms and your provider will diagnose you if your ear canal is clogged during a routine examination.
Certain skin conditions, such as eczema, lead to more of a chance of your ears being affected by excessive earwax. Those who regularly use earbuds or hearing aids may have more earwax. If you have either of these conditions, you may want to speak with your provider about regular ear cleaning.
You should avoid using any object – even cotton swabs – in your ears, as they may push the earwax further into your ear canal or cause you to damage your eardrum.
What Happens if Excessive Earwax Goes Untreated?
If left untreated, the symptoms of excessive earwax will increase and may include ear irritation, dizziness increased ringing in the ears and hearing loss.2 Excessive earwax may also delay you from being fitted for a hearing aid or having your ear canal examined.
For your convenience, we accept most major insurance, most of which cover earwax removal. To verify that your insurance is in-network, visit the Plan Your Visit page. We also offer a discount to those patients who choose to pay in full for their visit at the time of service. Self-pay services are $199.
1 American Family Physician. Cerumen Impaction: Diagnosis and Management. Last updated October 15, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2023.
2 National Library of Medicine / National Center for Biotechnology Information. Management of earwax. Accessed November 13, 2023.