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Dr. Roxanne Borukhov
Ear wax is a normal and healthy thing for our ears. Most people have a normal amount of ear wax, and the ear wax drains out of the ears by itself. Some people have too much ear wax and/or their ear wax does not drain properly, which means they can often end up with ear wax buildup deep down in the ear canal. This can be quite uncomfortable if not very painful.
Ear wax buildup is not an easy thing to live with. Some people are able to remove excess ear wax at home with kits or products that can be found at most drug stores. However, sometimes the ear wax problem is too difficult to deal with at home. In this case, it becomes necessary to visit the doctor and have the ear wax professionally removed.
ENTs (ear, nose, and throat specialists) and audiologists are both qualified to remove ear wax in their office. ENTs are probably the more common choice for ear wax removal appointments, but some patients already have an audiologist that they trust and therefore decide to go and visit them instead of going to a new doctor.
Audiologists generally have two main way of removing ear wax. They prefer to send patients home with an ear wax removal kit, but will do an in-office procedure if needed. Your audiologist will assess the seriousness of the ear wax buildup before deciding what actions to take.
Doctors have what’s called a currette. This may be what your audiologist tries first. A currette is a small device with a scoop at the end that is used to gently scoop the ear wax out of the ear canal. You should never try to stick anything inside of your ear canal at home. That’s why doctors perform this in the doctor’s office only.
Your doctor may also use water to irrigate the ears as well as stronger medicinal solutions to break up the ear wax. These solutions may be stronger than what you would use at home. Sometimes he will try one method first, or a combination of the methods to achieve results.
If your audiologists feels that the buildup can be removed at home, he will either instruct you to buy a kit or send you home with one. Ear wax removal kits generally include a small bulb syringe and an ear wax solution. The solution works to soften up the ear wax, and the bulb syringe is used to gently flush out the ear wax with water. Follow the directions on your particular kit to remove earwax by yourself at home.
Whether you need to stay at the audiologist’s office to have your ear wax removed or he sends you home with a kit, it’s a relief to know that professionals know what they are doing and can help you get relief from ear wax buildup. Know that if you feel most comfortable seeing an audiologist to remove ear wax, he will be fully capable of doing so.