By Madhavi Ghare

Read on to find out more about ear wax and how to go about removing ear wax so that you don’t cause injury to your ears in the process…

Ear wax is produced by glands present within the ear. It usually contains dead skin, oil and sweat. The primary function of ear wax is to protect the ear skin from infection and from water.

However, different people produce different quantities of ear wax. Too much of ear wax may often block the ear and cause hearing loss. It can also help bacteria to remain trapped inside the ear canal and cause further infections. This ear wax may also block the vision of the ear doctor when he / she is examining you.

Ear wax can be classified into wet and dry wax. Wet wax can either be soft or hard. The hard wax may get stuck inside the ear. This condition is often called impacted ear wax. It is often quite difficult to remove.

Normally, people use several methods for ear wax removal. A variety of cotton tipped ear swabs are available in the market. People also use pins and even their finger nails to remove wax from their ears. However, none of these methods of removing ear wax are recommended by doctors, as they may either push the wax deeper inside the ear canal, or they may cause injury to the ear drum by making a tear or a hole in it.

It is best to go to an ear doctor to get your ears cleaned as they use special tools designed to help clean your ears without causing injury or harm.

Doctors place a metal speculum inside the ear and remove the wax using a spoon-like device. They may also use suction to suck the wax out. All this is done using a microscope and a bright light.

Another method of cleaning the ears is by using ear drops. Most of these drops usually contain water and oil.

A common procedure with several doctors is the use of syringes. They use jets of water to flush out the ear wax.

The best method of avoiding impacted ear wax is to prevent the ear wax from hardening. Prevention is often said to be better than cure.

One method is the use of baby oil or olive oil. One can heat the oil (couple of tea spoons placed in a cup which is then placed in warm water – never use the microwave) and then put a few drops of the oil into the ear. Lie for a few minutes with that ear up, and then turn the other way round and let the wax and oil drip onto a towel.

However, this should be avoided when you know or suspect that you have a perforated ear drum.

Alternatively, visit your doctor every 6 months to get your ear cleaned.