Why do we have ear wax?
Ear wax or cerumen is a natural substance produced in our ears to help keep them moist and to prevent dirt, dust, and other unwanted substances from getting into our ears. In the section of the ear canal where wax is produced, there are tiny hair-like structures that move the wax toward the outer ear like a conveyor belt. So not only is wax helpful but the ear is also self-cleaning and unless there is a problem (like too much wax) it should be left alone.
How do I know if I need to have my ear wax removed?
If your ear wax is causing you to feel plugged up or you are having difficulty hearing, then it should be removed. Otherwise, a little bit of wax in your ears is good and it will come out naturally.
Why is using Q-tips not recommended?
There are several potential problems with using a Q-tip to remove wax. One major complication is puncturing or perforating the eardrum, which can cause damage to your hearing. Another problem is that sometimes using a Q-tip pushes the wax farther back, off the conveyor belt (mentioned above), getting it stuck or pushing it against the eardrum which can worsen your ability to hear until the wax is removed.
But since we can’t stop you, if you are going to use a Q-tip please remember:
- stand or sit in a secure place where you will not be bumped into. Behind an unlocked bathroom door is NOT a good place!
- the average adult ear canal is only 2.5cm in length and wax is only produced in the first third of your ear canal!
Do you do ear candling?
No. Ear candling is not recommended as there is no scientific evidence that it removes wax and the risks of this procedure greatly outweigh any potential benefits.
How do you remove wax?
There are a number of safe methods to remove ear wax. The method used at our clinic is irrigation which uses water pumped through a special nozzle to flush the wax out.
Do you have special training or certification to remove wax?
Yes. Our staff doing wax removals have done specific training through either the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario or the Association of Hearing Instrument Practitioners of Ontario to certify that they are able to perform ear wax removals safely.
Is there anything I should do to prepare for my appointment?
We would recommend that a couple of nights before your appointment you put a few drops of oil, (such as olive oil, mineral oil, baby oil) or ear drops to soften wax, into your ears before bed. This helps to soften the wax and make it easier to remove. Please be aware that after you put drops in your hearing may initially seem worse as the oil is absorbed and the wax expands and softens.
Why was I told that the wax was too hard to be removed? Why do I have to go back again?
If the wax is dried and hard it adheres to the skin of the ear canal. Since this skin is very thin and very sensitive trying to remove the hard wax could result in skin tearing, which causes discomfort and bleeding. This is why we recommend putting drops in your ear to soften the wax before coming to see us.
Is there a cost associated with ear wax removal?
Yes. There is an $80 charge for ear wax removal appointments.
Unfortunately, ear wax removal is no longer covered by OHIP.