Earwax is produced by glands in the canal of your ear for a fundamental reason: it makes it difficult for invaders to reach the delicate eardrum. Dirt, bugs, and other irritants are caught in superficial earwax before they cause irritation or damage.
Using cotton swabs -- like Q-Tips® -- or other objects not approved by a doctor may remove superficial earwax, but it comes at a price. These objects push the rest of the cerumen even deeper into the canal of your ear. Over time, this builds up and creates a blockage that can be both painful and disruptive.
The most common symptoms include declining hearing, ear pain, dizziness, ringing, itching, drainage, and a plugged sensation.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with an Otolaryngologist right away. He or she can evaluate the inner and outer ear to identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment that is both safe and effective.
Diagnosis is pretty quick and straightforward for an ear, nose, and throat specialist (called an Otolaryngologist). The doctor first needs to know more about your medical history and current signs and symptoms, and then he or she will examine your inner ear using a tool called an otoscope. If something other than blockage is causing your symptoms, further testing may be required.
Contrary to popular belief, ear candling is not recommended. The theory behind candling is that a vacuum is created, drawing wax out of the ear and into the hollow center of the candle. However, clinical research studies have demonstrated that this technique does not create a vacuum or remove wax at all.
It’s impossible to determine the cause of your ear pain without seeing a doctor. Possible causes include ear infection, ruptured or perforated ear drug, allergies, fluid behind the ear drum, a foreign object, hearing loss, or other causes yet.