Ear Wax Removal | Primary Care Raleigh

Ear Wax Removal

Your ears enable you to not only hear and connect with your surroundings but play a key role in balance. Your sense of balance is controlled by three major systems in your body that sends signals to the brain: the inner ear (the “vestibular system”) , vision, and position sensation from your feet on the ground (called “proprioception”). To ensure your hearing is protected and never impaired, excessive ear wax removal is recommended by your primary care doctor in Raleigh.

Ear wax or cerumen is naturally produced by your ear canal as a way to help protect your ear from dust, microorganisms and foreign particles that may become lodged in your inner ear. In addition, ear wax serves as a layer of protection over the skin of the ear canal.

Causes of Ear Wax Buildup

Ear wax will naturally move from the canal into the opening of your ear. When this occurs,  the wax generally gets washed away every time you bathe. However, there are various instances where this natural drainage is impaired or otherwise adversely affected.

In some people, their ear wax glands produce more wax than is needed which can build up over time causing a blockage. In others, the wax may not find its way to the ear opening and hardens to create a blockage. When you have excessive wax buildup, it can lead to hearing loss or infections.

Though many people produce more earwax than is needed, it doesn’t always lead to hearing loss or canal blockages. The majority of people who have an excess amount of earwax will use cotton buds or other objects in an attempt to remove the wax. However, attempting to remove ear wax using cotton buds or other objects can push the wax further into the canal. Repeatedly pushing this excess wax down into the ear canal can result in a blockage that otherwise would not have occurred if the wax was allowed to drain naturally.

People who use in-ear headphones are also more prone to earwax buildup and blockages. The design of in-ear headphones prevents the proper drainage of wax from the ear canal which in turn can cause a blockage.

Symptoms of Ear Wax Buildup

Your ears are a delicate but essential part of your body. Special attention should always be given if you are facing issues such as pain or hearing loss. There are several reasons you could be facing symptoms with your ears but a buildup of wax is a common culprit.

Common symptoms of ear wax buildup include:

  • partial, sudden loss of hearing
  • mild pain in the ear or low-grade earaches
  • feelings of fullness in the ear

Excess wax build up can also lead to infections. You should contact your primary care doctor in Raleigh right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • severe pain
  • vertigo
  • liquid drainage from your ear
  • loss of hearing
  • fever
  • foul odors coming from your ear


Every person’s ear is shaped differently and our inner ear varies in depth. Consult your primary care doctor for recommended ways to remove your ear wax at home. Removing ear wax buildup at home should always be done with caution. Self-treatment can push the wax deeper into the ear canal where retrieval becomes much more difficult.

Over the counter ear drops and irrigation kits are specifically formulated to soften ear wax and promote natural drainage to prevent blockages. Ask your primary care doctor if ear drops and irrigation kits are right for you.

In most cases, a trip to the doctor isn’t necessary to remove earwax buildup, but if you are not able to successfully remove your ear wax buildup, or if your ear canal has become irritated, it’s important to schedule a visit with your primary care doctor in Raleigh immediately.  

Let Us Keep Watch Over Your Ear Health

At Sentinel Primary Care we are committed to providing you with top notch medical care. If you are experiencing temporary or intermittent hearing loss, have questions about your inner ear, or simply want help with removing your ear wax Dr. O’Connell is ready to help.