Normal amount of earwax or also known as cerumen, has functions such as internal ear moisturizing, protecting against bacterias and providing acid – base balance. Lack of earwax means dry and itchy ear. Ear canal has the potential of cleaning itself. This is achieved by the migration starting from eardrum moving towards ear canal entrance. This a slow and organized movement. Earwax forms on the external 1/3 part of outer ear canal. It does not reach to the deeper end of the ear. Which means that, if we are dealing with earwax blocking the eardrum, then what probably happened is that the earwax was pushed towards the eardrum by a cotton swab. Using such supplies do more harm than good.
Do I need to have my ear cleaned routinely?
Under ideal conditions, it is not necessary to clean the ears. On the other hand, if there is excessive earwax causing symptoms then they should get cleaned.
What kind of symptoms does earwax cause?
1. Ear pain, ear fullness sensation
2. Partial hearing loss
3. Ringing, humming, noise in the ear
4. Itching, odor, discharge
Which methods are used to clean earwax?
1. Irrigation method (washing with water): The water used for this method should be same as body temperature. Using ear drops to soften the earwax 15 to 30 minutes
prior, makes the application more effective. However, this method should not be used for people who have diabetes, weak immune system or holes in the eardrum.
2. Cleaning with aspirator or special instruments: As for this method, earwax is cleaned with aspirator or miniature ear tools, by the use of microscope or otoscope.
If the ear canal is narrow or there is rupture in the eardrum or the immune system is weak, then this method should be applied.
Why shouldn’t we use cotton swabs?
Because, by using the cotton swabs you push the earwax into the depth of the ear and cause blockage. Moreover, you can damage the ear canal or eardrum while using these supplies.
How do I prevent excessive earwax buildup in my ear?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent that. It is strongly recommended not to use Q-tips. If your ears are prone to producing too much earwax or if you are using hearing aid, then you may consider counsulting to your ear, nose and throat specialist every 6 to 12 months and have your ears cleaned when necessary.