If you want to get technical, the name for earwax is cerumen. Earwax is healthy and serves important purposes including keeping our ear canals lubricated. A lack of earwax could cause the ears to become dry and itchy. It also acts as a protective barrier to keep anything, from dust to critters, from getting too close to the tympanic membrane, also called the eardrum. The ear canal is made up of “migratory skin cells”. These skin cells grow in such a way that the dead skin helps to move cerumen out of the ear canal. There are some individuals, who require cerumen management or the removal of earwax by a professional because of excess build up. In these cases, I believe that the shape and size of some ear canals cause earwax to build up. If you have dry or hairy ears they tend to build up earwax more quickly as well.
A common cause of earwax not being able to move outward is the use cotton swabs or “Q-tips”. The ear canal is shaped like an hourglass tipped on its side. It is wide at the outermost portion, becomes narrow in the middle, and then becomes wide again at the innermost portion of the canal. For this reason, when a person puts a cotton swab in their ear, there is a good chance that the earwax may be shoved deeper into the narrow portion of the canal.
Earwax becomes a problem when it becomes impacted (blocks the entire canal). When earwax becomes impacted people typically notice hearing loss and some feel pressure or discomfort in the canal. In certain individuals, a buildup of cerumen can cause dizziness, though this is more rare. Many primary care physicians (or nurses in their offices) are trained in cerumen management. Some audiologists and most otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat physicians or ENTs) perform cerumen management in their offices. Many providers will request that you use a wax softening agent such as “DeBrox” prior to coming in for cerumen management. This helps the earwax to come out easier and makes the process more comfortable for the patient.
In the office, there are different methods of cerumen management including irrigation, suction, and manual removal with a curette. Irrigation utilizes a steady stream of water to get behind the wax and flush it out. Suction involves the use of a specialized vacuum. A curette is a pick-like instrument that is used to scoop or pull out earwax.
Patients often ask me how I clean my ears. In the shower, I let warm water fill my ear canal for just a few seconds and towel dry after the shower. When necessary, I visit an audiologist or ENT . I do not use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or anything else to try to pull out earwax. I follow, and recommend that you follow, the old adage “Do not put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear”.
FYZICAL Balance & Audiology Center
“When I first started at Fyzical I was recovering from fractured tibia. I was using a walker after having been in a wheelchair for about 3 months. I was able to graduate to a cane and now an able to go without the cane around the house or short distances. I only use the cane when walking longer distances. The staff at Fyzical are all very caring and professional. They are friendly and encouraging."
— Diane B.
“Came in with headache and vision that wouldn’t adapt to movement, poor balance, and couldn’t stand on one foot. Those are greatly improved and most symptoms have gone back to where I was before. All staff was great, patient and caring."
— Marcia D.
“When I came to Fyzical I had a lot of pain on my back. They work on my back and got me on the right track to get me healthy again. I recommend this place to anyone who has an issue that needs physical therapy. Thank again!"
— Alemenesh M.
“Riley was diagnosed with torticollis at 1 month old. He is a twin and the tight quarters only favored looking one direction so much he developed a knot in his neck muscle that was very visible as well as a flat spot on the side of his head. With PT it has made a huge difference in his behavior and interaction! By starting right away when we were diagnosed and working a lot with him at home it only took about 5 months and his back to normal with his head control and development. Krysta gave us stretches and exercises that were easy to do throughout the day with a busy house of 3 kids."
— Riley B.
“I arrived at Fyzical with a whole host of diagnoses for my hip pain (from prior PT). Shannon at Fyzical diagnosed quickly and had me feeling better than I had in months! Very Thankful!!"
— Lonnie G
“Since starting therapy I am sleeping better, less headaches and an overwhelming feeling of energy again. I was going through a depression due to headaches and neck pain. When I first started my therapy at Fyzical, with Amy’s help I finally understand what was the cause of the headaches. The entire staff were so helpful and patient with me. I would recommend Fyzical to my friends needing physical therapy."
— Judy K
“When I first came in I was so Dizzy I wasn’t able to walk straight and was so bad I was also having trouble sleeping. After the first treatment I was better. The staff has been wonderful and has been very concerned with my wellbeing. I’m a true success story!
— Mona R.
“I had a great care and a great outcome at Fyzical. The staff was kind and knowledgeable. They worked with my very busy schedule and I discharged from their care feeling great!"
— Tracy L.
“Everyone from the front desk and all the techs are the “Best”. I’ve done therapy at other centers and never achieved what these folks helped me to achieve! Highly recommend “Fyzical” therapy!"
— Jeff L.
“After knee replacement I was in quite a bit of pain. PT was tough to start with but after a week or started to see a change. Along with at home exercising I now feel like I am able to exercise on my own. Surgery was 6 week ago."
— Mark K
Babies and toddlers learning to walk can be interesting to watch. They are determined to get to where they are going, however their legs have not mastered moving their...READ MORE
There is nothing more important than the shoulder joint. The precise coordination of the shoulder allows us to deliver the ball to its intended target with proper velocity to...READ MORE
Dizziness is a horrible symptom and those of you who have experienced it or now suffer from dizziness know you need help and fast. Dizziness caused by motion can be...READ MORE