Cerumen Management
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April 1, 2017
Written by John Thistle BC-HIS

People come to me regularly to address their problems with earwax. Every day it seems I’m seeing someone who has tried to deal with their own wax and have created a problem in doing so. Mismanagement of earwax, or cerumen, can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or ringing in the ear, balance problems, chronic itchy ears, ear infections and so much more. In the majority of cases these issues are caused when there was no need to do anything in the first place.

I am often asked “how do I clean my ears” and the best answer is that you don’t, because your earwax does it for you. When we interfere with our body’s natural ability to cleanse itself we have problems. When you use cotton swabs or other objects to remove wax what you don’t see is the wax that has been compacted and pushed deeper into the canal.

Have you ever heard the adage “put nothing in your ear smaller than your elbow”? It still rings true today. Wax is produced by the body naturally to cleanse the ear. It collects dirt, dust and any other foreign debris along with dead skin from the ear canal. It takes approximately one month from when wax is first produced until it comes out of the ear naturally on its own unless we interfere with the migratory process. We can interfere with it by wearing earplugs, hearing aids or by trying to manually clean our ears with cotton swabs or other foreign objects. I’ve seen damaged ears from cotton swabs (commonly referred to as Q-tips), bobby pins, car keys, pens and just about anything else you can think of. When wax is a problem and needs to be dealt with, the best option is to consult us or your family doctor, then use two drops of mineral oil in the affected ear and a cotton ball over the opening (NOT pushed down into the canal) and let that sit for 5-10 minutes. The oil will be absorbed by the wax and will make it more likely to come out on its own.

Sometimes using the oil is not enough and the wax needs to be manually removed. This is best to be done at an office such as Newcastle Hearing Solutions which is certified in wax removal. Please note that not all offices are licensed to remove wax from people’s ears. We use various processes depending on the degree of impaction and health restrictions of our patients. If you have any questions at all regarding cerumen or anything else to do with your ears then please call us today at 905-446-HEAR (4327).

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