Earwax has health benefits; don't remove it without doctor's advice

If you're a lifelong ear cleaner, you might be wondering what will become of the old earwax if you're not manually removing it.

Experts with the American Academy of Otolaryngology say cleaning ears out too much can cause major problems.

The sight of the big candles made out Father Jack's earwax in Father Ted would move anyone to clean them as often and as thoroughly as possible, but if you practise one of the most common methods of doing so, you should probably stop immediately.

Dr Schwartz, who was chair of the academy said: "This update is significant because it not only provides best practices for clinicians in managing cerumen impaction, it is a strong reminder to patients that ear health starts with them, and there are many things they should do as well as many things that they should stop doing immediately to prevent damage to their ears". As new skin grows in the ear canal, it pushes old earwax from the inside of the ears closer to the opening where it naturally flakes off or washes away during bathing.

That's right: By using a cotton bud to pull out wax, you might actually be pushing the wax further back into your canal, making it more clogged and compacted (ouch).

The body produces earwax, or cerumen, to clean and protect the ears and hearing-earwax collects dirt and dust and prevents the debris from entering the ear further.

"The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal", he adds.

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Schwartz says that anything that fits in the ear may "cause serious harm to the eardrum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage". It may irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and even increase impacted wax.

Researchers have said the old wives' tale that the biggest thing people should put in their ear is their elbow is correct. For many of us, using cotton buds in our ears feels as much a part of our regular routine as taking a shower, clipping our nails, or brushing our teeth.

You should take medical treatment or help if you're facing trouble hearing consonants, ear pain and any symptoms of hearing loss. According to Heathline, when you have compacted ear wax, it can have some serious effects on your health.

"Impacted earwax can cause symptoms like ear pain, itching, feeling of fullness in the ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss, discharge coming from the ear, odor coming from the ear, cough, and/or change in hearing aid function".

If you're suffering from earwax buildup, ask your doctor about safe ways to treat it.

And if you're seriously concerned about your ear wax, see a doctor or other medical professional.

  • Myrtle Hill