EAR WAX can be a big problem with some people. What good will it do to stick a hearing aid on a person’s ear if the canal is full of wax? Dr. Patricia is a Doctor of Audiology, trained and certified to extract earwax right in the clinic. With other clinics who don’t have a registered audiologist on staff, the process is further delayed by sending the patient off to their family doctor to try to get the wax removed.
During the audiological assessment, Dr. Patricia will be visually examining the patient’s ears to see if any obstructions are present. The most common obstruction is earwax. If earwax is present, it will interfer with the patient’s ability to execute their hearing test correctly, so the earwax must come out.
It’s one of the most common questions we get: “how do I know if I have too much ear wax?”
There’s no such thing as too much ear wax, unless, of course, it’s sitting in an accumulated ball of goo across the middle of your ear canal. Ear wax is a natural secretion, like saliva or perspiration. It protects the skin of the ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubricating, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Some of these things may not be too common in Canada, but remember, when you go on vacation to a tropical climate where bacteria, fungus and insects are more likely to be active in your hotel room or on the beach while you are sleeping, you’ll be glad you have your protective layer of ear wax to catch those pesky bugs.
Things to know about Ear Wax Extractions:
Patricia has 3 methods at her disposal: a) The “Loop” (a lighted device with a stainless steel loop on the end to physically scoop wax out); b) Irrigation (spraying warm water into the ear to flush the wax out); and, c) a strong suction pump (used mostly as a last resort).
Each of these Ear Wax removal methods is safe for most patients, unless they have a perforation of the ear drum. In such cases, irrigation, suction or oil to soften wax (see below) are not used.
Hard, impacted wax may need time to soften before it can be extracted. To soften ear wax, gather together a) some edible oil such as canola, sunflower, corn (any oil we can eat, we can put in our ears), and b) cotton batten to tuck in after and prevent the oil from leaking out.
If Dr. Patricia is in any doubt, she will make a written referral of the patient to an ENT, to have the impacted ear wax extracted by a surgeon specialist.