Ear wax is produced by wax (ceruminous) gland situated at the outer part of the external ear canal. It serves to protect the ear canal from dust, dirt and infection. In most people, wax naturally falls out. The ear canal has a self-cleaning system which brings wax outwards. In some people, wax builds up in the ear canal and blocks sound from entering the ear canal.
- Sensation of pressure
- Discomfort to pain
- Discharge – usually sticky
Ear wax is usually easily removed from the ear canal with syringing with water or suction under a microscope.
There is a more aggressive form of wax called Keratosis Obturans. Instead of moving outwards, this kind of wax moves inwards. It causes bone erosion and consequent pain. The wax is often difficult to remove because it ends up extremely impacted. Sometimes, patients need a general anaesthetic before the wax can be removed.