Why should we remove ear wax?

In News by Dr Riaz Rampuri

While ear wax (cerumen) serves important functions, such as protecting the ear canal and trapping foreign particles, in some situations removing excess ear wax may be necessary or beneficial. Here are some reasons ear wax removal may be recommended:

  1. Symptomatic relief: Excessive ear wax buildup can cause symptoms such as earache, ear fullness or plugging sensation, hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), itching, or dizziness. Removing the excess ear wax can alleviate these symptoms and improve comfort.
  2. Prevention of complications: Impacted ear wax, where the wax buildup blocks the ear canal, can lead to complications such as ear infections, conductive hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, or damage to the ear canal or eardrum. Removing the impacted ear wax can help prevent these complications.
  3. Facilitation of ear examinations: Excessive ear wax can hinder visualisation of the ear canal and eardrum, making it difficult for healthcare professionals to assess the ear for signs of infection, inflammation, or other abnormalities. Removing the excess ear wax can facilitate ear examinations and accurate diagnosis of ear conditions.
  4. Improvement of hearing aid function: For individuals who wear hearing aids, excessive ear wax buildup can interfere with the function and fit of the hearing aids, leading to reduced effectiveness and discomfort. Regular ear wax removal can help optimise the performance of hearing aids.
  5. Clearance for ear-related procedures: Some medical procedures, such as tympanometry (a test of middle ear function) or audiometry (hearing tests), may require a clear ear canal for accurate results. Removing excess ear wax may be necessary before undergoing these procedures.
  6. Relief of discomfort or blockage: In cases where ear wax buildup causes significant discomfort, blockage of the ear canal, or difficulty hearing, removal of the excess ear wax can provide immediate relief and restore normal hearing function.

While ear wax removal may be necessary in certain situations, not everyone needs to have their ears cleaned regularly. In many cases, the ear is capable of naturally expelling excess ear wax on its own. If you experience symptoms of ear wax buildup or impaction, consult a healthcare professional for safe and appropriate management. They can determine the best course of action for addressing your specific needs and symptoms.