Some wax is good, as it serves as a protective agent and natural lubricant. But problems can occur when cerumen builds up. These problems include ear pain, sound distortion, feeling of stuffiness, persistent itching, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), discharge, persistent cough, and hearing loss. Approximately 12 million people a year seek medical treatment in the US for impacted or excessive cerumen (wax) according to Richard Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, Chair of the AAO-HNSF Guideline Development Task Force.

If you are experiencing any of these problems, do not try to fix the problem yourself. The chances of pushing the impacted cerumen further in the ear are far too great. The methods of removal by a specialist include water irrigation, manual removal with special tools, or suction. Cerumen removal is not a do-it-yourself project.