We all have earwax, also known as cerumen. It’s there for a good reason; it provides protection from various forms of infection and fungi, including such well-known bacteria as E. Coli and Staphyloccus aureus. It also stops insects and water from getting into the ear. Normally, your ears keep themselves clean. The natural motion of your jaw as you talk or eat keeps the wax loose, and it oozes out by itself or becomes crumbly and drops out as you sleep. (That should make you wash your pillowcase more often!)
When it builds up, though, it can be a problem. It can cause severe hearing loss or loss of balance. This can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists or children on bicycles as well as older people who may already be suffering from balance or vision issues. Most of the time, this is genetic "When it comes to earwax, choose your parents well," says Richard Rosenfeld, chair of otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Some studies indicate that using ear bud headphones can also increase the likelihood of a wax buildup.
1. Don’t use a Q-Tip or bobby pin! We’ve all done it, but ENT doctors strongly advise against it. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, you can easily damage the inside of your ears. Secondly, you risk pushing the earwax further in and increasing the blockage. Start by softening the wax with a special wax softener, baby oil or olive oil. After the wax has had time to soften, wash the wax out using warm water and allow it to drain away. You will probably need to purchase an ear syringe.
2. Don’t use water that’s too hot or too cold. This can cause dizziness. If it’s too hot, you could scald your ear.
3. Don’t clean your ears too often. Earwax is necessary, and if you clean them out too often, you could be reducing your body’s ability to resist infection.
4. Don’t irrigate your ear if you have a damaged eardrum. This could cause serious damage to your inner ear, potentially resulting in infection or even permanent hearing loss.
5. Don’t use any kind of jet irrigation system, such as the ones designed for cleaning teeth. These are far too powerful for the delicate parts of your ears.
If you have constant ear pain or you can’t remove the wax yourself, contact a medical professional. There are many ENT doctors in Houston who can help you deal with this. It’s normally a quick, easy, painless procedure, but specialist tools may be required. Your ENT doctor will also be able to advise you if there’s a more serious problem that needs treatment.
ENT Doctor Houston – Humble Surgical provides five simple tips to avoid damaging your ear when removing earwax.