A healthy 50-year-old female complains of marked decreased hearing in her left ear. She has no pain and does not report a history of trauma although she is an avid swimmer. She has a history of significant ear wax and believes this may be the problem. She tried an over-the-counter ear drop to remove the wax, but her hearing did not improve.
The patient has complete obstruction of her left ear canal with ear wax (medical term, cerumen).
Individuals can have very different ear wax properties, from scant production to copious. Ear wax can also vary from hard to soft. Generally, the younger the patient, the softer the ear wax.
Here are videos of the ear before and after wax removal:
Video before wax removal Video after wax removal
The wax was easily removed with a speculum and a curette.
The patient reported an immediate improvement in hearing after the wax removal.