Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Everybody Ought to Know About Earwax

Earwax to keep or not to keep that is the question? The feeling of putting a cotton bud or Q-tip in the ear to remove earwax can be described as comforting, but are we doing any good?

The answers is not really as the earwax can be pushed down the canal and form a blockage. This can cause pain, pressure, itching, odours, ringing, ear discharge and hearing loss.

As earwax is not formed near the eardrum if one gets a build up there it can only be from probing.

Earwax should migrate outwards, its purpose is to carry dirt and debris with it, so using a Q-tip will just push this dirt back in which your body is trying to remove. It is therefore a important secretion to protect your ear.

Water can get in your ear canal -- whilst say swimming or taking a shower, for example.

Earwax As a Part of Our Protection System

The function of earwax will cause the water to bead up and move
away from your eardrum. Then the slipperiness of the wax encourages the water to run out of the canal.
Earwax is slightly acidic, which reduces bacterial or fungal growth in the moist, dark ear canal. Less earwax = more ear infections.

It's part of the body's self-cleaning system. No maintenance is required at all, except as earwax slowly migrates towards the opening of the ear canal and comes off.

Removing Earwax

If you want, you can take a washcloth and, using your finger, gently wash the opening of your ear.

So don't poke a cotton swab into your ear. A swab may remove a little wax, but it's also likely to push some deeper into the ear canal which is hourglass-shaped, and can create a plug that won't come out on its own.

So the problem is created by Q-Tips that send millions of people each year to the doctor.

Some people do produce large amounts of earwax. If your ear canal keeps getting clogged, you may need to see your doctor and have it removed.

This will most likely be removed with jets of carefully-controlled water to rinse out the ear canal and remove impacted wax. Ear specialists use a magnifying scope and a small instrument to remove wax.

How To Clean Earwax

There are some kits containing wax dissolving drops and a rubber sucking syringe that you can buy in the pharmacy but please follow directions and under supervision.