Sometimes, systems in your body work too well and overproduce secretions. Acne is often due to an overproduction of sebum, leading to blackheads and pimples.

Earwax is another substance that can sometimes build up. Medically called cerumen, earwax usually keeps your ears clean, lubricated, and free from bacterial growth, but from time to time, it may accumulate in excessive amounts.

Normally, cerumen takes care of itself, shedding or washing away naturally. Sometimes, though, this may not happen. Wax can be pushed back into your ears, interrupting the natural cycle of cerumen loss and replacement, or the glands that produce cerumen may create it faster than the rate of loss.

In either case, accumulated earwax can cause a few common symptoms that suggest it’s time to visit Hearing & Balance Services of Reston.

Symptoms of cerumen buildup

Since an excess of cerumen creates a physical blockage of the ear canal, you may notice changes that result from impacted wax. It’s typical to feel as though your ear is full or plugged. You may feel as though sounds aren’t clear, or people are suddenly mumbling.

Some other symptoms aren’t as physical, such as tinnitus sounds — a phantom ringing, buzzing or other noise in your ear. Since your ears are an essential part of your balancing ability, dizziness, vertigo, or nausea are also possible.

You may feel itchiness in or around your ear, and it’s possible you could develop an earache. While these can also be caused by infections, the presence of other cerumen blockage symptoms makes it more likely that earwax is the culprit.

Removing excess cerumen

The safest way to confirm and remove built up earwax is with a visit to an audiologist or family doctor.

We start by using an otoscope to look inside your ear and evaluate wax levels. If removal is necessary, there are several treatment options, including an instrument called a curette or a small suction tube that collects excess wax. There are even washing tools that can flush accumulated cerumen out of your ear.

If you have excessive wax production, we may recommend a wax removal kit to keep cerumen blockages from reoccurring. Use these as directed on the package to prevent skin irritation.

Warning: cotton swabs and ear candles

You shouldn’t try to clear cerumen blockages at home. Typical methods include cotton swabs, which can push wax deeper into the ear, or ear candles, which are a folklore remedy that doesn’t work and may cause physical damage.

If you suspect cerumen buildup, over-the-counter earwax removal products are safe when used as directed, but they may not be effective on severe blockages. Follow product instructions for repeat applications, but if these treatments don’t clear the blockage, it’s time for medical attention.

You can contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston by phone, by sending them a message here on their website. It takes only a short appointment to inspect and clean your ears, as well as checking for signs of infection, a possible complication of cerumen blockage. Book your consultation today.