You’ve probably heard the old adage, “don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ears”. Your ear is actually a self-cleaning organ and the old saw is primarily correct. Your good intentions to keep ears clean may lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. It is not only not a good idea, it can actually be dangerous to clean your ear canal with cotton swabbed implements, ear candling, your finger, a pencil, paper clip or any other “tools”! Your ears are a delicate and intricate body part, including the skin of the ear canal and the eardrum.
Cerumen, or more commonly called, ear wax, serves as a beneficial, self-cleaning agent, protective, lubricating emollient with antibacterial properties. By trying to remove ear wax yourself, not only can you cause impaction, but infections and potential hearing loss. Old earwax is naturally moved out of the ear canal from the act of chewing and jaw movement, to the ear opening. Usually, the earwax then dries, flakes, and falls out.
How to prevent excessive ear wax and what to do about
There are no proven ways to prevent impaction.
1. Visit your doctor and have him/her remove the wax in their office.
2. If you are prone to repeated wax impaction or use a hearing aid, consider visiting your ENT/doctor every 6 – 12 months for regular checkups and preventive cleanings. Hearing aid wearers who suffer from wax impaction may experience feedback, reduction in sound intensity, or it could potentially damage the hearing aid.
3. Clean the outside of your ear with a damp cloth.
4. If you choose to use cotton swabs, don’t insert them into the ear canal; only clean the outer ear with them.
5. Use earwax softener to soften earwax for easier removal.
6. Use a syringe to irrigate your ears.
7. If there is a possibility of a perforation in the eardrum, consult your physician prior to trying any over-the-counter remedies. Putting eardrops or other products in the ear with the presence of an eardrum perforation may cause pain or an infection.
Annual hearing tests should be part of everyone’s health regiment. Treat any hearing loss before it turns into something bigger. CALL the specialists at Cedar Crest ENT to schedule a hearing appointment today 610-770-9797!
We wish you all the best for the New Year and Happy Holidays!
Cedar Crest Ear, Nose, and Throat
1251 S. Cedar Crest Blvd, Suite 110
Serving the Greater Lehigh Valley, Poconos, PA Area