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Ear Wax (Cerumen) Removal

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Why is ear wax produced by the body?

Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a normal and healthy lubricant formed by the body. It is created in order to protect the ear and even has antibacterial properties. Most of the time, ear canals clean themselves: ear wax slowly migrates away from the eardrum and out of the ear canal. Sometimes, ear wax can build up and cause pain and in some cases can lead to other health complications.

When should ear wax be removed?

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, ear wax should only be removed when enough symptoms accumulate to warrant a proper cleaning. Symptoms include:

  • Pain, feeling of plugging, or fullness in the ear
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Itching, foul odor, or discharge in the ear
  • Extreme coughing
  • Tinnitus (ringing or other noises in the ear)

Can ear wax be removed at home?

If symptoms are mild, gentle ear cleaning can be done at home. However, it should be done with caution and without inserting anything into the ear canal. Usually, ear wax buildup will go away on its own, by the natural irrigation process in the ear.

  • Cleaning outside of the ear with a cloth
  • Saline solution irrigation
  • Dissolving wax inside ear canal using cerumenolytic solutions:
    • Baby oil
    • Mineral oil
    • Glycerin
    • Peroxide-based ear drops

What does wax removal by a physician involve?

If you experience more serious symptoms, such as hearing loss or pain, an ENT specialist should be consulted. New York ENT doctors can provide a number of solutions for ear wax removal treatments, depending on the severity of the ear wax impaction (or buildup). If the buildup warrants it, a prescription medication or in-office ear wax extraction procedure may be performed. Ear wax removal treatments may include:

  • Prescription ear drops, used to soften ear wax
  • Removing wax with special instruments and microscopic visualization

If you are suffering from ear wax buildup, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear wax removal doctor. Board certified physicians with New York ENT have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of ear conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at (212) 873-6168 to schedule an appointment today.

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