Dear Dr. SerVaas,
What causes wax to build up in the ear, and what can be done for it? I go to an ear, nose, and throat doctor once a month to remove the wax. I would appreciate an answer.
Seal Beach, California
Earwax buildup may be a problem for people who have narrow ear canals, overproduce earwax, or wear hearing aids. Characteristic symptoms include ear pain, ringing, and hearing problems. Recently released guidelines recommend that health professionals use wax-dissolving agents, irrigation, or special instruments to remove troublesome earwax. The expert group strongly discourages removing wax with cotton swabs or jet irrigation devices designed for oral use.
Earwax (medical name: cerumen) is a mixture of secretions, hair, and dead skin that cleanses and protects the ear canal. There’s no need to manually remove earwax unless buildup causes symptoms.