Do you remove earwax regularly?

Ear Wax

Some of us have grown up listening that we should regularly clean our ears. Generally, we stock up on earbuds or cotton swabs to remove earwax. However, ENT specialists advise against putting anything inside our ears as it can be harmful, leading to unforeseen complications.

Read further to find out if you should be removing earwax and under what circumstances it is permissible. 

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What is earwax?

Ears produce a waxy substance that acts as a protective coating and skin lining to the ear canal. The substance produced is cerumen which is commonly called earwax. While it is normal for humans to produce earwax, some people may produce more wax than others.

Why do our ears produce wax?

Ears produce wax to protect the ear canal from wetness, dryness and other harmful dust particles from going into the ear. If this protection is not provided to the ear canal, it can lead to severe injuries to the ear and irritation in the eardrums.

How does earwax help us?

Earwax helps us to protect and lubricate our ears. If there had been no earwax, then ears would always be itchy, dry and prone to infections from bacteria, fungus, insects and water. It is nothing but a filter for our ears which prevents the entry of harmful particles such as dust or dirt, & infection-causing agents. It traps them and does not allow them to enter the middle ear and harm the eardrums. These harmful substances stick to earwax and then leave the body rather than penetrating further into the ear and causing damage.

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Is earwax removal safe?

It is safe to get earwax removed by an ENT specialist. Never attempt to self-remove earwax with available tools like cotton swabs, bobby pins, pointed items, or pen caps. Inserting any of these things in the ear can severely damage your ear canal and eardrum. Also, you are at a higher risk of pushing the wax further into the ear.

Under what circumstances should our ears be cleaned?

Is earwax always good? Yes, but only until it is naturally removed by the body on a regular basis. When that fails, the wax gets impacted on the ear canal and cause block, which can lead to symptoms such as feeling of fullness and pain. It may also affect sound perception. In such cases, do not attempt to remove earwax on your own. Visit the ENT specialist who will safely help you remove the earwax and relieve the symptoms. Self-removing the wax can cause more harm than good. 

Earwax should be removed under the following circumstances:

  1. If the person is experiencing excessive pain in the ear. 
  2. If more than needed wax is being produced. 
  3. If there is any earwax blockage. Due to the improper use of the cotton swab, sometimes the earwax is pushed in the middle or inner ear region which harms the eardrum and can cause pain.
  4. When an excessive amount of wax causes difficulty in hearing. 
  5. If the wax becomes very dry and does not fall out on its own. 
  6. Any kind of ringing in the ear; plugged or fullness sensation.

In conclusion, it is best to not disturb your ears. Avoid using tools such as bobby pins, cotton swabs, or newspaper rolls to remove earwax since they can damage the eardrums and lead to complications. If you face any difficulty in hearing or experience excessive ear pain, then consult an ENT specialist who will remove earwax if required.

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  1. Ear Wax Blockage https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/earwax-blockage/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353007 
  2. Reasons to leave Earwax alone https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/3-reasons-to-leave-earwax-alone-2017051711718
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