Impacted earwax occurs once the wax or cerumen builds up in the ear canal often due to external objects such as ear plugs, hearing aids or cotton swabs that blocks the ear canal. The resulting solidified wax embeds in the ear canal and causes different symptoms including tinnitus in the ear, gradual loss of hearing, pain, irritation and even a plugged sensation in the ear. It is important to consult a doctor before attempting to clean impacted earwax, particularly in children or individuals who have a punctured eardrum.
Steps in cleaning impacted earwax
As part of first aid care, there are steps to be followed when dealing with an impacted earwax.
- You have to initially fold a large-sized bath towel in half and position it across one side of a table. Instruct the individual to sit in a chair at the table and turn his/her head to the side before resting it gently on the towel. The affected ear must be fully exposed, thus make sure that the individual rests his/her head on the unaffected ear.
- Instill 3-4 drops of any oil-based cerumenolytic or wax-softening agent in a direct manner into the affected ear canal using an eyedropper. The acceptable oil-based cerumenlytics include mineral oil, olive oil and almond oil. You have to allow the individual to keep his/her head in a resting position for 15-30 minutes to promote the softening of the earwax.
- You have to fill a bulb syringe with body temperature water to help minimize possible side effects such as dizziness that usually occurs during irrigation treatment if warm or cold water is used. The individual must sit upright and drape a towel over the shoulder and neck on the side of the body close to the affected ear.
- You have to hold the syringe about ½ inches from the ear canal opening and gently tug upward on the top of the ear to help straighten the ear canal. Spray water gently into the ear canal in order to extricate the softened wax. You have to aim the water at the wall of the ear canal next to the impacted earwax to prevent it from forcing the wax further into the ear with the force of the water.
- Tip the head of the individual slightly toward the affected area so that the water and chunks of wax will drain from the ear onto the towel. You have to repeat the treatment 24 hours later if needed. If the symptoms persist or increased in severity during or after the cleaning, you have to consult a doctor.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Do not insert liquid into an ear that might have a ruptured eardrum. The symptoms of a punctured eardrum include discharge, ear pain and buzzing of the ear. An individual who has a ruptured eardrum, has diabetes or have ear tubes in place, the doctor might perform manual removal of the impacted wax with the help of specialize tools to avoid possible complications.