The ear is a completely separate environment from the rest of your body and the outside world. The inside of your ear is a hot and humid place. Typically what we find in our ears is ear wax or medical professionals call it cerumen. You have two glands in your ear, one produces a waxy substance and the other produces oils. This combination creates a yellow brown wax that we find in our ears. It may be gross to think about wax being in our ears, but it is there for a reason. Ear wax helps protect our ears from bacteria, fungus, dirt, debris and even bugs! It is also there to keep our ear canals from drying out and moisturizing the skin. Many people try cleaning the wax out of their ears, however the ears will clean themselves out on their own if you let them. Over time the natural migration of skin will push ear wax out of your ear. You may never see it happen, but as you sleep and bathe little bits of wax and skin come out of your ears.
If you use q-tips to clean your ears you should stop now!
Q-tips tend to cause more problems. When you put a q-tip in your ear you get a little bit of wax on the end of the q-tip and think you got it out, but what you really did is push most of the ear wax further down your ear canal. Over time this can lead to impacted ear wax in your ear canal. You will plug up your ears and you can cause a temporary hearing loss, not to mention at this point the only way the impacted ear wax will come out of your ear is to have it removed by an audiologist or your primary care physician. Not only can q-tips cause impacted wax, but they rip the delicate skin of your ear canal causing red, dry, itchy, irritated skin which in turn make people use more q-tips to itch their irritated ear canals. If you have been using q-tips schedule an appointment with us to have the status of your ears evaluated. Besides q-tips, people try putting other items in their ears to clean or itch them. Some of these items include bobby pins, safety pins, keys and pens. Putting items into your ears is dangerous because if you go too far into the ear you can puncture your eardrum! Puncturing your eardrum is extremely painful and will cause hearing loss. If this were to ever happen to you, you should seek medical attention and in the best case scenario the eardrum will heal, however depending on the amount of damage caused the eardrum may never heal completely. If you have put something in your ears and hearing loss has occurred, schedule an appointment with a qualified doctor (like the Los Angeles ENT Doctors) in your area to have a complete hearing evaluation performed.
So what do you do about ear wax, how do you clean it out?
If you leave your ears alone they will push the wax out by themselves. If you are a person who produces a lot of ear wax or it has become impacted you can purchase wax removal kits from an audiologist or from a pharmacy. Good Sound Audiology has wax removal kits available for purchase and our staff will be more than happy to provide you with personal instructions for proper use. If purchase elsewhere, follow the instructions on the kit, after the designated time of use the wax may be gone completely or mostly gone in which you would no longer need to continue to use the kit. If a significant amount of ear wax remains in the ear or you are unsure if it came out, have an audiologist or your primary care physician take a look in your ears because they can confirm if it is still in your ears or remove the remaining ear wax. If you need to have wax removed schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists.