By JESSICA SCHULTE
Earwax! Gross, right? While many of us do not like to see or hear about earwax (cerumen), it is actually healthy for us to have some earwax. Earwax is a natural process and serves as a lubricator and protector against debris, bacteria, fungi, water and foreign objects.
There are times when earwax gets impacted, and this causes pain or hearing loss. Earwax removal is indicated in cases of hearing loss or when the eardrum needs to be visualized.
Q-tip use is not recommended as it pushes earwax farther down and closer to the eardrum. Q-tips can cause irritation, bleeding and bruising to the ear canal. Also, while ear candles are tempting, they do not actually remove earwax. Instead, they can leave behind a residue on the eardrum, and side effects include pain, ear infections, burns of the ear canal, hearing loss and a hole in the eardrum (perforation).
With this being said, earwax is good for us and unless it is causing symptoms, we do not recommend removal. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend seeing someone to look at the ears instead of trying home treatments, as they could increase risk of infection and cause further impaction. Believe it or not, earwax is not gross to doctors and they would be happy to discuss options of how to remove earwax safely in the office or at home.
Schulte is a certified physician assistant with ENT and Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio, an affiliate of Blanchard Valley Health System. If you have a question, contact the health system’s public relations and marketing department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-423-5551.