Clean ears are as prominent part of personal grooming as having clean nails, hair, clothes etc. But this does not mean that you keep stuffing your ears with one thing or other in order to clean them. One of my friends had a habit of cleaning her ears with bobby pins. I used to get really nervous whenever she started off with hear cleaning routine. We tried to stop her many times but it always fell on deaf ears.
One day, while on our way to collage via auto she hurt her ear. I took her to a doctor fearing she will be deaf for good now. Luckily she escaped a major damage and was fine with a few doses of antibiotics.
In this article I have tried to put together all about earwax, our eardrum guard.
What is Earwax?
Earwax is a yellowish waxy material secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties. In the medical term earwax is known as cerumen.
What is Earwax blockage and what are its symptoms?
Earwax blockage occurs when it accumulates in your ear and becomes too hard to clean away naturally.
Earwax is formed in the outer one-third of the ear canal. So when a person has wax blockage against the eardrum, it is mainly because he has been probing the ear. Cotton-tipped applicators, bobby pins etc. only push the wax in deeper and create problems. Its symptoms include:
• Ear pain
• Partial hearing loss
How often should we clean our ears?
Under ideal conditions, the ear canals should never have to be cleaned. As the old earwax is regularly being transported, by chewing and jaw motion, from the ear canal to the ear opening where it usually flakes, and falls out.
However, if you notice the above symptoms then it is always advised to seek a professional help before trying something at home.
Things to remember while cleaning ears at home:
• Wash the external ear with a cloth.
• Never put anything inside the ear canal.
• To soften earwax put few drops of mineral oil, baby oil or glycerin in the ear.
• Detergent drops such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide may also aid in the removal of wax.
• Avoid using cotton swabs as they only push the wax deeper in the ear canal. cotton swabs should be used to clean the outer part of the ear not the inner.
Apart from the above mentioned cleaning method there are two more techniques that can be used. They are:
• Irrigation or ear syringing: Earwax can be removed from the ear cannal by the process called Irrigation or ear syringing. This method or cleaning can be performed at home using a commercially available irrigation kit (though I would like to see a doctor, rather than perform these stunts at home). These kits typically contain a wax-softening agent, like carbamide peroxide, and a bulb syringe. The wax dissolving drops are put in the ear canal for few minutes. As the solution softens the wax you will hear a bubbling sound. Then a syringe is used to gently spray water into the ear to free the wax. Note: Before putting the drops in the ears it should be warmed to the body temperature to prevent dizziness.
Avoid having your ears irrigated if you have diabetes, a perforated eardrum, tube in the eardrum, or a weakened immune system.
• Vacuuming: Must be done by a professional only. It involves the use of special small instruments for the process of suction. A microscope, to magnify the ear canal, is also used in this process. This method is ideal for those who have a narrow ear canal, diabetes or a weakened immune system.
In case you are prone to frequent wax impaction, then visit your doctor every 6 to 12 months for a checkup and routine preventive cleaning. Some individuals may also be hypersensitive to products designed to soften ear wax so it is always better to seek a medical help beforehand.