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Earwax blockage - Causes, diagnosis, and treatment

in:General Healthpublished:21 May 2021, last updated:21 May 2021

Production of earwax is part of the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Earwax blockage becomes a problem where earwax accumulates or becomes too hard to be removed naturally. It can affect your hearing and cause other problems as well. Let’s delve into the details to help people diagnose and treat it,.

Symptoms indicating ear wax blockage

There are a few tell-tale symptoms of ear wax blockage to look out for. These happen to be:

  • Pain in ear
  • Tinnitus – ringing sensation in the ear
  • Feeling of lightheadedness
  • Heaviness or fullness sensation of the ear
  • Limited hearing in one or both ear

Some of these symptoms may also overlap with other conditions such as ear infection.

Causes of ear wax blockage

The most common cause of ear wax blockage is that in some people the rate at which the body produces ear wax is greater than the one it is being removed from the ear. Some other medical conditions that can contribute to ear wax are following:

  • blockage of the ear by the bone
  • skin problem affecting the skin inside the ear
  • narrowing in the ear canal which can be congenital or because of an ear infection or trauma
  • infection of the ear
  • an autoimmune disease that affects the body's organs
  • overproduction of ear wax after physical injury

Foreign objects in the ears are also a source of ear wax build-up in younger people as they have no other medical condition likely to cause ear wax blockage. An example of this is the careless use of cotton buds by children and young adults who are unaware of how to remove ear wax. They can unknowingly push the ear wax further into the ear and cause a blockage in the ear. This is one of the commonest reasons among patients who present with ear blockage.

How to treat ear wax blockage

Your treatment at ear cleaning Singapore varies based on certain factors such as your overall health, the severity of the blockage, and your age group. Your general practitioner will usually make the decision based on the symptoms that you are facing.

Usually, the healthcare providers do not recommend treating ear wax blockage if there are no symptoms as normal ear wax will clear by itself.

Removal of ear wax

However if there is any ear infection or discomfort arising due to the ear wax blockage, doctors might recommend some of the following treatments:

  • Ear drops such as Olive Oil, Tropex – the ear drops help to soften the hard wax which will then clean itself naturally.
  • Ear syringing - Irrigating the ear canal and flushing out the ear wax. However this should be performed by trained professionals to prevent rupturing of the ear drum.
  • Physical removal of ear wax by using specialized equipment such as suction tubing or scraping loop.

Doctors usually recommend starting with ear drops to soften the wax and allow the ear to clear the wax itself. However if the ear wax remains impacted, ear syringing and physical removal might then be performed.

How much does ear wax removal cost?

Ear wax removal is a time-consuming procedure that requires high level of expertise. Removal of ear wax from single ear costs around $40 if done at a General Practitioner (GP) clinic and higher when done by an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist.

Where can I get my ear wax removed Singapore?

You can go to your nearby pharmacy to get some ear drops and try to soften the hardened wax first. However, if the symptoms persist, you should consider seeing your general practitioner and get your ears checked. In some severe cases, your GP might refer you to an ENT specialist for further evaluation and management.

Can a GP remove ear wax?

Yes, a GP can remove ear wax. If you have tried ear drops and other self-help methods to remove ear wax to no avail, your GP can help remove ear wax via ear syringing and physical removal.

Can I remove ear wax myself?

Cotton Buds usually do the exact opposite of removing the ear wax and push the ear wax deeper in and more compact. We recommend you using just ear drops and consult your GP if your ears are still blocked.

What happens to ear wax when you use ear drops?

Ear drops are mostly used when ear wax is causing mild symptoms such as discomfort. They are widely available in pharmacies as an over-the-counter medication. They can be used to soften the ear wax. The softened ear wax then falls out of the ear after some time without applying any external force. But ear drops are not suitable in certain medical conditions such as perforation of the ear drum. Therefore kindly consult your GP if you are experiencing persistent troubles with your ears.

Author's Profile
FAMILY MEDICINE
Biography

Dr Tan Yan Yuan is a Family Physician and Designated Workplace Doctor accredited by Ministry of Health Singapore. He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Singapore (NUS). After graduation, he acquired a broad-based training in Primary Care, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Oncology, Occupational Health as well as Aesthetics. He has worked in leading tertiary medical institutions such as Singapore General Hospital, National Cancer Centre Singapore and National Skin Centre as well as leading private aesthetics clinics such as Novu Aesthetics and ClearSK Aesthetics. 

Dr Tan continued his academic pursuit after graduation and obtained his Graduate Diploma in Family Medicine from NUS. He subsequently graduated with a Distinction in Graduate Diploma in Practical Dermatology from Cardiff University, United Kingdom and obtained his Graduate Diploma in Occupational Medicine from NUS. He has a keen eye for aesthetics and is a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine. 

Dr Tan has a deep desire to leverage on technological advancement to optimise patient care, transcending conventional boundaries in the healthcare landscape. He is a strong advocate of delivering excellent quality, outstanding service and bringing convenience to patients. 

Dr Tan is currently practising Family Medicine at Our Woodleigh Family Clinic at Blk 115B Alkaff Crescent #01-05 and Aesthetics at Scinn Medical Centre @ Somerset triple 1 #04-12/13. He is glad to be able to help address questions that patients have online and is happy to meet them in clinic to render medical assistance necessary. 

Credentials And Achievements

Family Physician 
Designated Workplace Doctor ( All Hazards)

 MBBS(Spore)
 GDFM(Spore)
 DPD (UK)
 GDOM(Spore)

Accepted Insurance

MBS
CDA ( Baby Bonus)
IHP
MHC
Adept DA
Medisave
 CHAS/ PG/ Merdeka Cards 

References
  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/earwax-blockage/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353007


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