I. EAR WAX:
· What is ear wax?
Ear wax, aka, cerumen is a fluid secreted by the ear everyday. It has got anti-microbial activity and is protective in nature.
· How does the ear get self-cleansed?
The ear canal skin grows inside-out normally a which pushes the ear wax outside and this movement is aided by jaw movements during talking and chewing. Once on the outer edge, the ear wax sheds itself off.
· What is impacted ear wax?
Ear wax is normally produced and excreted everyday from our ears. However, when the ear wax builds up in excess unusual quantities inside the ear, it then needs to be cleaned by a doctor.
· Why does ear wax get impacted?
Not everyone suffers from ear wax impaction, and not everyone suffers with same frequency of ear wax impaction.
This basically means a problem with the self-cleaning mechanism of the ear.
This practice is more common in people having the unsafe habit of cleaning the ear with ear buds or sticks or other sharp instruments because here we go in the opposite direction than the normal and push the wax further deep inside in the ear.
People with an unusal shape/curve of the ear canal are not well suited for this slef-cleaning mechanism.
People using hearing aids can face this problem
· Are ear buds advisable to use for cleaning the ear?
Here’s the reason why-
1. Ear buds go against the self cleaning mechanism of the ear and rather push the ear wax further inside the ear than outwards. The blockage also increases, so does the hearing loss associated with it.
2. Ear buds/ other sharp items used to clean the ear can actually damage the ear canal causing bleeding/ bacterial or fungal ear infections
3. Sometimes, the buds/sharp item can go deep enough and damage the ear drum!
· What is the best way to treat impacted ear wax?
Visiting an ENT surgeon is the best option
- Drops used initially to soften the ear wax
- Irrigation with water to remove the ear wax
- Micro instruments of the ear to clean the wax
It is not recommended to clean the ear wax at home!
· How can I make sure I don’t develop impacted wax again?
While it is not always possible to prevent impacted earwax, you can certainly take the following precautions:
· Never put ear buds or other sharp instruments in your ear.
· If you suspect earwax impaction, do not try to clean it out yourself. Get an ENT specialist to do it for you.