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Hearing loss is typically categorised into three types and can be either permanent or treatable. The most common types of hearing loss are conductive or temporary and can be treated via medication or surgery. In these cases, the sound is prevented from reaching the middle ear by a blockage or issue with the ear’s structure. This can result in mild, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.

A build-up of ear wax is a common cause of conductive or temporary hearing loss. In this article, we outline why ear wax can cause hearing loss and what treatments are available.

What are the causes of conductive hearing loss?

The main causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Ear infections
  • Foreign bodies in the outer ear
  • Fluid in your ear
  • Benign tumours
  • A hole in the eardrum
  • External otitis
  • Cerumen impaction

How does a build-up of ear wax affect hearing?

Hearing depends on a series of steps. The first step is sound waves entering the outer ear and the pinna amplifying the sound waves into the ear canal. It then hits the eardrum, making it vibrate. The ossicles respond to the vibration and amplify the sound energy into the cochlea. The organ of Corti then transforms the vibration into electrical signals via hair cells. The signals then travel to the brain cells where the sound is transmitted to other brain areas for processing and decoding. But how does earwax interfere with this process?

Cerumen impaction prevents sound waves from passing through the outer ear and causing vibration at the eardrum resulting in conductive hearing loss. Patients with conductive hearing find softer sounds difficult to hear. Treating the cerumen impaction can reverse the hearing loss. However, if the untreated ear wax is left in the canal, it may lead to permanent damage.

Causes of ear wax blockage

  • Using bobby pins and cotton swabs to try and clean the ears
  • Use of hearing aids and earplugs
  • Old age
  • Certain skin conditions and developmental disabilities
  • Narrow or not fully formed ear canal
  • Frequent use of earphones

Ear wax blockage diagnosis

Our practitioners use an otoscope to check the inner ear and diagnose an ear wax blockage. You should visit an ear specialist when your ear wax is a discharge that contains green or white pus or if it’s black or bloody.

Ear wax blockage treatment

At Ear Care Lab, we ensure that you don’t suffer irreversible hearing loss by treating you in the following ways:

Ear wax softening

We use cerumenolytic solutions like hydrogen peroxide, baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin and saline solution in the affected ear.

Syringing

Our doctors will use electronic ear irrigators to squirt water into the ear canal and hold the ear at different angles for the water to reach every part.

Syringing is unsuitable for people with a ruptured eardrum or those that have undergone a medical procedure on the ear.

Ear microsuction

For patients who cannot undergo ear irrigation, the team at Ear Care Lab recommends microsuction to clear the canal.

Regain your hearing today

If you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t leave the issue to worsen. Get in touch with the experts at Ear Care Lab today to schedule an appointment.

Ear Care Lab Team

About Ear Care Lab Team

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