3 Most Popular Methods of Earwax Management
What is earwax production?
Earwax (cerumen) production is a completely natural process of a yellowish sticky substance produced in the ear canal, by secretions from glands that line the canal. Wax is then carried to the opening of the ear where it dries out and falls away.
Earwax helps to protect the ear by keeping it clean and lubricated; keeping the nasty germs and fungi away, and therefore protecting the ear against infections.
What are the most popular methods of wax removal?
In a nutshell the most popular earwax management methods are:
- Ear irrigators and syringes
- Cotton swabs (ENT UK’s official advice is against the use of cotton swabs)
Here is a more in depth explanation…
ENTs (ear, nose and throat) specialists perform approximately one million ear-care procedures every year. One million is a huge number. Once you have learnt that wax production is a completely normal and healthy process, that figure should not come as a surprise.
A popular choice for earwax removal are cotton swabs, these are not a recommended method – due to the fact that cotton swabs can be dangerous for your ears. The swab can push the wax deeper into your ear canal or easily rupture the delicate eardrum by using even the slightest pressure.
Two of the safest, and most common methods of cerumen removal, are the ear irrigation and curettes. Ear irrigators remove accumulated wax by pressure of a fluid injected into the ear. The pressure of the irrigator adjusts to an adult’s auditory canal (3 ml/sec). Irrigator pressure for children under 12 must be the recommended 2ml/sec.
Most irrigation units need constant check on the temperature in order to avoid caloric repose. However, there are some irrigators available on the market, such as Earigator, that have fully automated temperature and pressure controls to make life easier for hearing care professionals and their patients.
The curette technique does not require liquid nor pressure but patience and precision. A curette is a handle with a shaped tip, used to ‘scoop out’ excessive wax. Curettes can be made in different materials (metal or plastic) and sizes. Some light up, enabling professionals to perform minor medical procedures with ease and efficacy. Popular single-use curettes from Bionix come in 8 different endings (including Infant scoop) and colours. Bionix curettes with a light source and lenses are available from PC Werth. For the whole range of Bionix curettes visit PC Werth Webstore.
Is earwax removal necessary?
Wax acts as a helpful coating for the ear canal, to protect it from things such as infection, so removal of it is not necessary. However, when it comes to excessive wax production, it can cause pressure on the eardrum or blockage of the ear canal. This can lead to skin irritation, infections and hearing impairment. In this instance, it may then be deemed necessary to remove wax from the ear.
Most common issues arising from excessive cerumen:
- Temporarily hearing loss
- Tinnitus, pain, dizziness
- Malfunctioning of hearing aids such as whistling
- Ear Infections
Why is cerumen management important for hearing aids and earplug wearers?
Excessive ear wax is a particular problem for people wearing hearing aids and earplugs. Cerumen can build up after excessive use of hearing aids and earplugs. It is more common for hearing aid users to suffer from cerumen build up than earplugs users. Earplug users are likely to remove the earplug more frequently, allowing cerumen to escape the ear naturally. Unlike hearing aid users who need to constantly wear their hearing aid. Cerumen can also block the sound bore of the earplug or hearing aid tubing, preventing the sound from reaching the ear.
In that case normal cerumen management procedures, proceeded by use softening agent in the ear such as almond or olive oil, suggested by your local GP, audiologist or ENT department need to take place.