by Dr. Jessica Nesbitt, ND
Ear wax (cerumen) is a normal substance made by the cells lining the ear canal that helps to protect, clean, and keep the ears healthy. When dust or dirt enters the ear, the ear wax provides a sticky substance that traps the debris and prevents it from travelling deeper into the ear canal.
Ear wax will normally make its way to the outside of the ear canal through the motion of our jaw, and by chewing food. At this point, it can flake off or be washed off.
Sometimes this natural process can be uninterrupted, and a build up of ear wax can occur. This is called impaction. When this occurs, the ear canal will be either partially or full blocked and lead to symptoms such as:
- ear pain
- sense of fullness in the ear
- hearing loss
- change in hearing aid function
- odour coming from the ear
Keep in mind that it is possible to not have any symptoms at all. I have found throughout my years of practice that on routine physical exams many patients did have impacted ear wax and were not aware of it all. It is important to have your ears checked yearly, or if you start to experience any of the above symptoms.
In my clinical practice I have found that anyone of any age can have impacted ear wax. But, more commonly I have found it in children 2-6 years old, senior citizens and those who use hearing aids, or ear plugs. Other risk factors associated with impacted ear wax are; yeast/candida overgrowth, having hairy ear canals, a narrow ear canal, people with re occurring ear infections, and swimmers.
Although you may be tempted to clean out your ears, it is important to remember not to stick items such Q-tips, keys, or bobby pins in your ears as they may push the was build up deeper into the ear canal.
I am pleased to announce that I will be offering complimentary ear checks at the clinic. This will be a drop in service available on Wednesdays from 10am - 2pm.