Is It Bad To Remove Earwax?
Is it bad to remove earwax? The key point to remember when answering this question is that it is always bad to remove earwax yourself! Earwax, or 'cerumen', is a sign of a normal, healthy ear and actually performs an essential service for us. This waxy substance coats the thin skin which lines the ear canal; only 1 mm thick at the entrance and getting thinner the further down the canal you go, to only a tenth of a millimetre at the eardrum! It prevents the ear canal from becoming too wet or too dry and its antibacterial properties help to prevent any irritation or infection when trapping any particles of dust, dirt or dead skin cells and then absorbing the debris.
The ear is self-cleaning and will usually make as much wax as it needs.
The movement of the jaw when eating or talking for example, helps to move the old earwax out of the inner ear and into the ear opening where it can fall out naturally. This action, along with normal bathing is usually enough to keep earwax at a normal level. The composition of your earwax can depend on a number of factors such as your age, ethnicity, environment and even your diet can make a difference.
So what can cause an excess, or build-up of earwax and what should you do about it?
Firstly it is important to know the correct course of action to take if you have a build-up of earwax or 'cerumenosis'. As a first step you can buy 'over-the-counter' ear drops which can help to soften the wax and may relieve some symptoms, but any actual removal of wax needs to be done by trained professionals in a clinical setting. This is because the ear canal and the eardrum are very delicate structures which always need to be treated with care and respect. It's certainly never a good idea to stick anything into your ear, especially a child's, because of the risk of infection or permanent damage to your hearing that can occur.
As you age your earwax becomes harder, it can also be affected by narrow or hairy ear canals. Using a 'cotton bud' to remove wax can actually have the opposite effect as it can push the wax further into your ear canal making it impacted and harder to remove. Large clumps of wax pushed down into the ear in this way can lead to painful ear infections, a rupture of the eardrum and many other unpleasant symptoms. Those with a build-up of earwax can experience pain in the ear, a feeling of fullness, partial hearing loss or even tinnitus. There can also be itching, a discharge or smell, coughing and spells of dizziness none of which can be said to be pleasant.
There's no such thing as 'ear buds'
Many people are under the misapprehension that cotton buds are for ears and call them 'ear buds', but this couldn't be further from the truth. There is a saying that "the smallest thing you should put in your ear is your elbow" and this goes for cotton buds, which should never be inserted into your ears, as noted above.
So to sum up!
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of an excess of wax don't reach for the nearest 'cotton bud' and attempt to tackle the problem yourself! Get in touch with the trained professionals at the Microsuction Earwax Removal Network.