|Earwax : What it is and what to do about it
Most people don't understand the purpose of earwax and consider it to be
something dirty that has to be cleaned out. Others feel that wax buildup
causes infections. But, according to researchers, earwax has gotten a bad
rap over the years.
Earwax is a friend, not a foe. Earwax is a natural product that your body
makes to help keep foreign particles from getting to and damaging your
fragile eardrum. It protects your ears from infection. It traps dust, sand,
insects and other particles and keeps them from getting into the ears.
In most cases, earwax gets rid of itself by traveling outward, drying up
and flaking away. Unfortunately, may people have earwax-producing cells in
their ear canals that work overtime. You end up with too much wax.
Apparently, you can run into some problems when you attempt to clean your
ears out yourself. The softer wax can get pushed back into the ear, block he
canal and get trapped. The wax can become impacted and then you've got
Other reasons why wax can become impacted in your ears are an increase in
the number of hairs in your ears as you age, producing an unusual amount of
wax, or abnormally shaped ear canals. Lack of chewing your food properly can
also keep the wax from migrating out.
Devices that fit into the ears such as hearing aids, stethoscopes or
molded earpieces can also create problems leading to excessive earwax.
Too much wax in your ears can cause hearing problems, ringing in the ear
and just simple problem with personal hygiene. Symptoms of wax buildup can
range from slight annoyance to severe pain in the ear. It can sometimes
cause hearing loss, dizziness and vertigo.
Australian researchers tested several commonly used products for ear wax
removal and found that the best one just happens to be the cheapest --
sodium bicarbonate. Just mix one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in two
teaspoons of water. Shake well and apply a few drops in your ear with a
dropper. Within one hour, the solution should break up the wax. Although
oil, the most commonly used remedy, won't dissolve ear wax away, the
researcher admit it might lubricate your ear canal enough so you can remove
the ax easily- but it's much messier.
Most drug stores or pharmacies sell over-the-counter ear cleansing kits.
The kits include some eardrops that will soften the hardened wax buildup.
After the wax is softened, you can use the syringe from the kit to gently
cleanse your ear with clean, warm water. The wax should flow right out of
your ears into the sink or shower. If you still notice a ringing noise, try
some more drops and repeat the cleansing process.
If your ears become red and irritated, put the kit away and try it again
the following day. Your ears aren't used to so much attention and might need
a rest from the cleaning.
Removing normal amounts of wax from your ears can cause problems.
Taking away the fluid and its normal function can sometimes lead to dry
ears. Your ears can become itchy due to the dryness. It can also lead to
conditions such as swimmer's ear, because earwax helps to waterproof your
ears. When you remove the oily coating, it can leave your ears unprotected.
Your doctor can clean the wax out of you ears if you have difficulty
doing it yourself. Your doctor will also clean out your children's ears --
special care should be taken with children because their ear canals are
shorter than adults, and it is easy to damage the tender eardrum.
Never use your finger, a hairpin, a pencil, tweezers, sharp objects or
even cotton swabs to clean your ears. Putting these things in your ear could
push the wax deeper into your ear and even damage your eardrum.