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Earwax and Ear Cleaning

It is normal and even desirable that there be a certain amount of wax in the ears that helps fulfill their protective function.

Cerumen or wax as it is known colloquially, It is a substance that our body produces to protect the ears, clean them, lubricate them and serve as a natural ear plug.. It is composed of secretions generated by glands located in the skin of the outer two thirds of the ear canal mixed with skin.

In most cases the ears have the ability to expel the wax produced through the normal peeling of the skin favored by the movements of the jaw, together they manage to carry the wax to the outermost part of the ear where they can come out spontaneously or with gentle cleaning with your fingers.

ThereforeIt is normal and even desirable that there is a certain amount of wax in the ears that helps fulfill its protective function.. Not all patients with documented earwax require cleaning.

However, There are some people who have increased wax production or poor self-cleaning mechanisms. Likewise, elderly people, those who use hearing aids, people with skin problems such as dermatitis or dryness or those people who usually insert things into their ears (cups, hooks, keys, pens, insertable hearing aids) tend to have more frequent earwax plugs.

Symptoms and cleaning

Some discomforts that may indicate the presence of a wax plug are:

All these symptoms associated with the visualization of a wax plug that limit the adequate evaluation of the ear are the indication to perform a Ear Cleaning.

There are several methods to clean the ears., a health professional is the ideal person to determine the appropriate one for each case. In many cases, more than one method is required to achieve complete extraction:

  • Drop application: They can be used as the first step at home. There are several types of drops that help get rid of earwax. They can be oil-based drops such as carbonated glycerin or mineral oil or other substances sold under medical formula.
  • Ear irrigation: It is a procedure in which plenty of warm water or saline solution is applied to the ear canal with a syringe to extract pieces of earwax. It usually requires prior preparation with oily drops so that the earwax is softer and easier to remove. It is a blind procedure so in some circumstances it can be painful, although it rarely causes long-term damage.
  • Ear aspiration: It is a procedure performed by a specialist in Otorhinolaryngology, who, seeing the ear (directly or through a magnified view), extracts the earwax with curettes, forceps or by aspirating the secretions. In many cases, it is necessary to apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide or saline solution to facilitate extraction. Prior preparation is not always necessary, it will depend on the consistency and amount of earwax. The experience of the Otorhinolaryngologist plus direct visualization of the ear makes this type of procedure the safest and most effective for complete extraction.

Wax prevention

The best strategy to avoid the formation of wax plugs is Do not manipulate the ear and avoid inserting straws to clean the ears. since usually what is achieved with this is to push and compact the earwax against the tympanic membrane.

Those people with greater wax production and poor self-cleaning mechanisms may benefit from the application of oily drops every 2 weeks so that the wax is more liquid and comes out more easily, or serial aspirations according to the particular need. Together with your doctor, they will make the decision on how much should be done to avoid feeling the discomfort associated with earwax plugs.

Finally, it is very important to emphasize that, if there is a history of ear diseases with expulsion of matter, Otitis repetition or tympanic perforations should always be evaluated by an experienced Otorhinolaryngologist and determine in each case what is the best method for a safe and successful ear cleaning.