Thursday, February 9, 2012

Removing Ear wax: some simple Rules.

It's stimulating to scan the journals and see what those amazing researchers are up to in their Labs - stem cell therapy, gene therapy, nano particles to cover artificial joints and so on. But every so often it's good to remember that in medicine, common things happen commonly! And one of the bane of many peoples lives is ..... ear wax!

Ear wax removal is the stuff of legend amongst Ear Specialists, or more truthfully, the stories they tell of how their patients have attempted to remove wax from their own ears with paper clips, cotton buds, tweezers and just about anything that the imagination can conjure up has been tried at some time or other to get that tricky wax out of the ear canal. "Ear candling" was in vogue for some time as well but is ineffective, and the hot candle wax and naked flame do increase the dangers of unnecessary burns.

There are a number of obstacles to removing the wax oneself, and probably the most obvious is that you cannot see inside your own ear canal: in fact, there may not be any wax in there in the first place! So Rule Number One, if you think you might have wax in your ear(s), please go an see your family Doctor, because she/he has the right tools and the right instruments to be able to properly deal with the problem.

Secondly, the interesting thing about wax production is that it's only the outer one third of the ear canal that actually produces any wax: so if you insert a blunt object such as a cotton bud, into the outer canal, all you are going to do is push what's outside further inside and leave more room for more wax to be produced! Rule Number Two: never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear canal!

Wax and hairs in the outer third of the ear canal keep dust and wandering insects out of the ear canal: and they do a very good job of that. Deep inside the ear canal is the ear drum, and the ear drum does not appreciate having pointed object being probed into it in an attempt to remove any stubborn wax. Rule Number Three: never push anything sharp into your ear canal - this is a recipe for disaster!

IF you have a history of repeat build up of wax in your ear then there are a couple of simple things you can do prior to a visit to your Doc for her/him to remove it. Baby oil - warmed to body temperature - put in the ear over night for a few nights will help soften the wax, as will body temperature water  for a few hours prior to the actual Doctors appointment. This will mean that if there is wax there, then it can be removed more easily, and even if there is no wax there then no harm will have been done. But, Rule Number Four: never put anything in your ear if anything is coming out in the form of a discharge, and never put anything in your ear canal if you know you have a perforation in your ear drum or if you suspect it might be infected.

The look of happiness on patients faces after having plugs of wax removed is very rewarding to see: but to see someone with a damaged ear canal, or with a perforated drum as a result of a failed home remedy, is to see someone in severe pain which can take days to settle and may even lead to permanent hearing loss.

Stick to the Rules!

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2 comments:

Mariodacatsmom said...

Good reminders, and I didn't know about the rule #4, but I wouldn't do that anyway.

Adam Baldrick said...

Thanks for providing the information.
Earwax build up can lead to ear discomfort, reduced hearing and affect your day to day life.Therefore consult a doctor and go for ear wax removal to done safely.ear wax removal