Why is wax produced in the ears?
The external auditory canal is lined with glands that produce cerumen, whose purpose is to protect and moisturize the skin of the ear canal. This cerumen traps and prevents dust, bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as small objects, to penetrate and damage the ear. Some of this cerumen is absorbed by our skin and the rest, with the specific movements of the canal, is propelled towards the outside where it falls out or it is removed.
Is it good or advisable to clean your ears?
The pinna can be cleaned gently every day, but not the ear canal which needs a thin layer of cerumen to protect itself from external aggressions.
Who is more prone to suffer earwax build-up?
Children and elderly people are more prone to these build-ups. For different reasons, children produce much more cerumen, and the build-up is easier due to the characteristics of their ear canal. By contrast, elderly people produce less cerumen and have less absorption capacity which generates this build-up. Furthermore, generally, men use to produce more earwax plugs than women due to the amount of hair in the external auditory canal. It is also more frequent the production in young people owing to the use of headsets when listening to music.
Is it advisable to clean the auditory canal? Should I use cotton buds?
Both primary care professionals and otolaryngologists do not recommend poking in the ear to clean it because it can damage the skin in the canal and the eardrum. Do not insert anything in the ear canal. Cotton buds should only be used to clean and dry the ear and its creases, always externally.
Why are earwax plugs produced?
In some people, the glands produce more wax than what it can remove, thus it may build up in the ear, harden and block the ear canal. Sometimes, when trying to clean it (especially with cotton buds) the wax may be pushed deep inside and it may block the canal.
Can the production of earwax plugs be prevented?
Yes, the production of earwax plugs can be prevented by not introducing any item in the ear and by avoiding long-term wetness. If you are a swimmer, you should use made to measure earplugs. Do not try to remove a possible plug.
How can I know if I have an earwax plug?
Earwax plugs symptoms can be very different depending on the degree of obstruction of the ear canal. When it is a partial blockage, it can almost be asymptomatic, but when it is total any of the following symptoms can be observed: a stuffy or plugged-up feeling in the affected ear; listening to one’s own voice; itchiness; hearing loss (deafness); earache; tinnitus ( ringing in the ear); instability or vertigo.
Should you live with an earwax plug without removing it?
You should not live with and earwax plug because it may cause medium or long term complications.
When should the earwax plug be removed?
When any of the symptoms associated with earwax plugs is felt, it is advisable to visit a family doctor to assess if the removal is required.
Which is the best treatment to remove earwax plugs?
The most common way to remove earwax plugs is the irrigation of the ear with warm water. The irrigation consists in directing a water flow, at a constant pressure, towards the wall of the ear canal. There is another option, in which tweezers and a suction device are used, but this manoeuvre is quite complex and it should only be carried out by an otolaryngologist specialist.
Should you be treated prior to the earwax removal?
Earwax softeners may be used before the ear irrigation even if dispensable. As long as a health professional recommends it, it should be used at least 15 minutes before the manoeuvre; to reduce the number of irrigations needed to clean the ear canal successfully, thus improving the effectiveness of Lantitaps.
Is it advisable to bathe in the sea or the swimming pool with an earwax plug?
You can bathe in the sea or the swimming pool, but it may be damaging because it can lead to a middle ear infection and other hearing problems.
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