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Can an Audiologist Remove Ear Wax?

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

Can an audiologist remove earwax? An audiologist is a healthcare professional who specializes in hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), balance disorders, and other ear-related problems.

As hearing care professionals, audiologists diagnose conditions using tests such as pure tone audiometry (hearing test), tympanometry (pressure testing) and acoustic reflexes (response testing).

Their job include fitting patients with hearing aids or other devices, counseling them on how to use their devices, educating about hearing loss prevention, and treating any underlying issues.

Earwax Buildup Is Common

But do audiologists also remove earwax? Ear wax build-up in the ear canals is a common problem in all age groups. In some cases, earwax accumulates to the point where it causes symptoms like pain, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears.

If this happens to you, help is available. An audiologist can remove ear wax from your ear canals and do it safely.

What Earwax Is and Why It's Important

Earwax is a sticky protective substance produced by the sebaceous glands in your ear canals. It’s composed of dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria that help keep debris from reaching your eardrum. The wax also traps bacteria and debris that can cause an infection.

Ear wax is composed of fats, cholesterol, a substance called scalene, and a variety of alcohol. Adults produce varying amounts of wax, and it travels out of the ears on its own as you go about your day—no Q-tips required.

The amount and consistency of wax varies depending on your age and overall health. Some people have a lot of wax buildup, which can cause symptoms like hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Too Much Earwax Can Be a Problem

While you need a certain amount of earwax, excess earwax can be a problem. It can build up to the point that it causes symptoms like pain, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

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Wax buildup can also interfere with hearing and create a sense of fullness in your ears. Some people have reduced hearing in one ear and discover the cause is wax buildup on that side.

Sometimes people use cotton swabs or other tools to remove dried-out earwax from their ear canal—but this can push the waxy debris further into your ear canal where it becomes impacted (a condition called cerumen impaction).

This buildup can also lead to infections such as otitis media or even hearing problems like tinnitus if there's too much pressure on the eardrum.

Therefore, it's not a smart idea to use Q-tips and other instruments to remove wax from your ears. An audiologist or other professional can see if these is wax build-up and remove it safely.

An Audiologist Can Remove Earwax Safely

There are kits available at drugstores to safely remove earwax at home. If you use one, read the instructions and follow them carefully. If this method doesn't work, an audiologist can remove it for you.

In some cases, an audiologist will recommend that you use a home wax removal kit rather than removing wax in the office. However, an audiologist knows the proper technique to use to avoid puncturing an ear drum or injuring an ear canal. They also use medical grade water that’s sterile to prevent infection.

How Audiologists Remove Earwax

Removing earwax is a common procedure for audiologists, who usually do this by irrigating the ear canal to remove unwanted gunk. An audiologist may also recommend that you use over-the-counter ear drops to soften your earwax before suctioning it out.

Over-the-counter ear drops are available at drug stores and contain either mineral oil or glycerin, which help break down the hard wax so irrigation can more easily remove it.

For most people, this is a safe and effective way to dissolve excess earwax, but there are situations where you should not use these products:

  • If you have a perforated eardrum, do not use any kind of liquid in your ears—not even saline solution or sterile water—without first consulting with your doctor.
  • If you have a history of recurrent swimmer's ear infections (otitis externa), avoid using any type of drop in the affected area for 24 hours after treatment has ended since this could cause further irritation and inflammation.

Earwax Removal in Office

Can an audiologist remove earwax? If you're experiencing earwax buildup or other symptoms, an audiologist can remove the earwax and recommend treatment if necessary.

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