A lot of people think it may be from ear infection such as otitis media, but unexpectedly, it is often caused by excessive earwax. Today, we will talk about the earwax.
Ear wax (Cerumen)
Why does earwax occur?
- A gray or yellow waxy substance produced by the glands in ear organs.
- It is a natural substance created to protect the ear.
Are there any types of earwax?
- Dry earwax: Many Asians has this type. It tends to be discharged naturally without digging.
- Wet earwax: It is common in Africans and Europeans, and it often appears in people with strong armpit odor. It is not well discharged naturally.
What is the composition of earwax?
60% is made up of keratin, and the rest is made up of fatty acids and alcohols.
What is the role of earwax?
- Earwax protects the ear and provides lubrication. –It prevents dust and germs from entering and damaging the ears.
- It protects your ears from insects, moisture or bacteria.
Should I remove earwax?
Earwax movements are aided by jaw movements, such as talking or chewing food. Once it reaches the outside of the ear, it will naturally fall off or be removed while showering.
So, it is not recommended to clean with cotton swabs or other instruments unless you have any specific symptoms.
What is wrong with removing earwax too often?
In fact, if you have too little earwax in your ears, it can easily dry out or itchy ears. So, the vicious cycle of many people scratching their ears frequently with cotton swabs continues, leading to otitis externa or otitis media, and antibiotics are sometimes prescribed.
What symptoms do you have if your earwax accumulates excessively?
- Tinnitus, dizziness, hearing loss, itching, pain in the ear, feeling that your ears are stuffy or clogged, and odor or discharge from your ears.
- 10% of children, 20% of adults, and 30% of the elderly suffer the symptoms from excessive accumulation of earwax. And approximately 8 million patients each year in the United States visit clinic with this problem.
What is the right way to clean earwax?
- The use of cotton swabs is not recommended. It can push the earwax deeper and damage the eardrum and skin.
- You can use Over-the-counter medication called Debrox Ear Drop. Turn your head slightly backwards, put 5 drops into your ears, and wait 5 minutes. When used twice a day, for about 4 days, most of the earwax is safely removed. Any wax remaining after treatment, may be removed by gently flushing the ear with warm water, using a soft rubber bulb ear syringe.
- If you do not have Debrox, you can use olive oil instead, in the same way as above, and then you can gently flush the ear with hydrogen peroxide.
- Still, if it cannot be removed, it can be easily removed using a simple tool at a family medicine clinic or otolaryngology clinic.
Yoon Park, MD
Edmonds Medical Clinic