Ear care is an important and necessary procedure that every American should perform. After all, the hearing organs, like any other parts of our body, need care. Despite the simplicity of keeping the ears in order, most people do it wrong.
Meanwhile, proper care and ear cleaning are not only about hygiene. It’s also a way to keep your hearing sharp for years to come. Therefore, it is important to understand what is happening in the ear, and if there are deviations from the norm, act in time. Let’s take a closer look at the important issues related to earwax and its removal.
Some facts about earwax
What is earwax? Earwax is a lubricating secret. The glands of the external auditory canal produce it. On average, a person has about 2,000 glands in each ear that produce this substance. At the same time, its composition is unique for each individual.
Doctors distinguish two types of cerumen:
An interesting fact is that a certain type of earwax is most often found in certain ethnic groups. For example, dry cerumen is typical for Native Americans and Asians, but wet for Africans and Caucasians.
Not only the type of earwax but also its color can tell a lot about a person. Often patients ask a question. What kind of ear wax should be, wet or dry, light or dark? Many people think that it is different, which signals some health problems. This is not quite true.
Dr. Stella Fulman emphasizes that the color and consistency of earwax may vary. Orange, yellow, or light brown cerumen is healthy and normal. Ear wax with a gray tinge is characteristic for residents of noisy and dusty megacities, as it collects all impurities in the air. There are no problems with the health of the ears. Sometimes patients ask about dark brown and even black earwax. There is such a thing. Don’t worry about it either. Earwax darkens when it stays inside the ear for too long. It contains fats, and they darken over time when interacting with oxygen.
We figured out the color and type of secretion. Now let’s answer the next important question. Why do people have ear wax? What functions does it perform? As you can guess, the secretion doesn’t just pollute our ears. It performs all the functions necessary for the health and functioning of our hearing organs.
Barrier to dust and other small particles. Similar work is also performed by short hairs located in the external auditory canal
Maintaining optimal humidity and temperature in the external auditory canal in various climatic conditions
Cleaning of the external auditory canal by evacuation of small foreign components
Preventing water from entering the ear canal
Softening and moisturizing of the epidermis
As we can see, cerumen is an important substance for the work of our hearing organs. But everything should be in moderation, including earwax. Fortunately, its excess is removed from the ears on its own.
Despite the fact that earwax performs a number of useful functions, for example, it prevents various infections, or debris getting into your ears, you should not allow its excessive accumulation.
Is ear cleaning mandatory?
Maintaining personal hygiene is the right thing to do. We all brush our teeth in the morning, take a shower and wash. What about ear cleaning? Is it worth cleaning them? How often should I do this?
For many, the answer may seem strange. But most ENT doctors say that ear cleaning is optional! With most healthy people, nothing terrible will happen if they do not clean their ears according to the “schedule”. The ears can independently get rid of excess earwax. When a person chews or talks, ear wax separates from the walls of the ear canal and gradually shifts to the outer part of the ear. The body gets rid of the debris and at the same time moisturizes the ear canal and acquires additional protection from bacteria and fungi.
It is necessary to wash the auricle regularly, which is enough to get rid of excess secretion, and not break the protective layer inside the ear.
How to clean your ears properly?
Every American is familiar with cotton swabs. They are often used to clean the ears. However, it is not worth doing this! The reason for the improper use of cotton swabs is their great popularity and little information about their harm to the ears. Can cotton swabs hurt your ears? Yes, and here’s how:
Careless movements with cotton swabs can damage the thin skin of the auditory canal, which can cause the development of an inflammatory process
When pushing a cotton swab to a depth of more than 1.5 cm, there is a risk of damaging the eardrum
And the most important thing. The use of cotton swabs can lead to the sealing of earwax and pushing it deep into the ear canal, which in turn can cause the formation of a blockage of cerumen.
The formation of an earwax plug is a common occurrence among Americans who incorrectly clean their ears using cotton swabs. The problem has painful symptoms:
It is difficult to live with such symptoms. Therefore, if such signs appear, you should get the wax plug removed as soon as possible. Some Americans do it on their own using various drops and candles against the ear wax plug. However, Audiology Island does not recommend performing such manipulations yourself. Studies show that their effectiveness is low. It is better to consult a doctor for professional ear wax removal. With the help of special tools, the doctor will quickly, safely, and painlessly remove the cause of discomfort.
To avoid such problems, clean your ears properly. Nature has made sure that cerumen can be independently removed from the ears. The same can be said about the dust particles that get into the ears. We only need to regularly wash the outer portion of the ear. Forget about using cotton swabs for ears!
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]