Most people see urgent care as a place to go for light medical emergencies: a sudden illness or cold that won’t go away, a small laceration or cut that may need a brief cleaning or some stitches, COVID or influenza vaccination shot, or even a pesky urinary tract infection that calls for an antibiotic prescription from a clinician. What many people don’t know is that there are plenty of hygiene exams or self-care maintenance services available at local urgent cares such as Carbon Health.
Of course, many individuals will visit an urgent care facility for ear related symptoms such as general earache, hearing loss, pressure, dizziness or only hearing muffled sounds. While ears with these symptoms may be experiencing multiple issues including an infection, oftentimes these symptoms are related to ear wax (cerumen) build up. When a clinician examines the ear experiencing the mentioned symptoms, they’ll determine if in fact wax is building up (cerumen impaction).
It’s important to note that before going into an urgent care do not attempt to dislodge any assumed wax build-up with a q-tip (cotton swabs) or other object which may actually push the natural wax build-up further back into your ear canal causing earwax blockage.
If the issue is in fact wax, the clinician will likely place a couple of ear drops of a water-based solution (which often contains hydrogen peroxide) to loosen the wax build-up, and then clear the ear with either a syringe type tool or warm water. Individuals often hear a crackling or popping sound while the wax is being dislodged. Like listening to a bowl of rice-krispies! After the clearing clinicians will look into the ear to rule out any other damage or ear infection before sending the patient on their way.
In and out in 20 minutes.
It’s important to talk to your primary healthcare provider about all ongoing health related actions and efforts. Scheduled ear hygiene exams can be one of those efforts. Your provider may give recommendations on how often to schedule an ear cleaning, ear irrigation, or ways to avoid build-up issues in the first place. Plus, the attention to your ear health may be something that is discussed more often the older you are and in relation to possible other conditions or past health experiences.
If you don’t have a regular primary care:
To be very clear, Carbon Health always recommends an examination before any type of procedure, such as excess ear wax removal, is conducted. It’s important to understand why ear pain or other related symptoms may be occurring rather than assuming there is a simple ear wax build-up issue. This will set a patient up to tackle core issues rather than just treating symptoms in the moment.
For further information on ear wax removal, but in nifty video form, check-out the video tweeted below from a Carbon Health clinical director, Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell. Don’t worry, there are text ques in the video in case your earwax is pretty intense right now.
Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell is a regional medical director at Carbon Health and at Saint Mary’s Medical Group in Reno, NV. Follow Dr. BCW on Twitter: @DR_BCW