Excessive ear wax can actually inhibit the ability to hear. The ear is a delicate and sensitive area and special care should be given to the ears especially the skin of the ear canal and the eardrum. Many people have good intentions and use Q-tips to clean their ears. Using Q-tips or anything else to probe or clean the ear can actually cause more harm than good. These objects actually push the ear wax deeper and make the blockage even worse.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EARWAX?
The purpose of earwax serves as a self-cleaning agent within the ear and is there to stop dust, dirt, bacteria and other material from entering the ear canal and to lubricate the ear. Old earwax and skin cells are constantly being moved from the eardrum to the ear opening assisted by chewing and jaw motion. Once the wax reaches the ear opening, it usually dries, flakes, and falls out.
WHEN SHOULD THE EARS BE CLEANED?
Ideally, the ear canals should never have to be cleaned. However, some people do produce an excessive amount of ear wax and/or have an abnormal accumulation of earwax. The ears need to be cleaned when the earwax accumulates to the point that it causes symptoms. Additionally, you may want to schedule periodic preventive cleanings if you know you are prone to excessive earwax accumulation.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Partial hearing loss that progressively gets worse
Earache or feeling of fullness in the ear
Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
Odor or discharge from the ear
THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF EAR CLEANING
Gently clean or wash the external ear periodically with a damp cloth
Do not insert anything into the ear canal including Q-tips
Do not use ear candles to remove wax as the use of them may result in serious injury
Home treatments such as placing a few drops of baby oil or commercial drops in the ear can be used to effectively soften wax and remove the blockage.
Ear syringing or irrigation with a solution of water and saline is commonly used for cleaning and can be performed by an ENT physician. Although this method is effective, caution should be used in patients who may have more serious problem including diabetes, a perforated eardrum, tube in the eardrum, or a weakened immune system.
Manual removal of earwax is also effective and is performed by an otolaryngologist. The physician uses suction and special small instruments to safely remove the ear wax and restore hearing. This is a safe method even for patients with a potential perforated ear drum, diabetes or a weakened immune system.
PREVENTION OF EXCESSIVE EARWAX
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent earwax accumulation. If you are prone to repeated wax impaction or have a hearing aid, consult with your Broward Sinus Doctor every 6 to 12 months for a checkup and preventive cleaning. This procedure is done by a specialist to ensure that wax is safely removed with the right tools.
To learn more about ear cleaning or to request a consultation call Odalys Alfonso at (954) 389-1414 or fill the short form below.