As you go to an ENT in Oklahoma, we at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates want to educate you about cerumen—more commonly known as earwax.
Many of us have grown up believing that earwax is an “icky” bodily substance meant to be gotten rid of. Throughout the years, people have inserted all kinds of foreign objects into their ears—including Q-tips, pens and pencils, bobby pins, and nails—in an attempt to remove their earwax.
However, according to guidelines put out by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, it is advisable to leave your earwax alone.
Not only is earwax not a bad thing, (though we may find it unappealing)—it is in fact a naturally occurring substance that protects the ear canal and doesn’t need to be removed unless it’s causing pain or preventing the ear from doing what it needs to do. (In which case, we urge you to immediately give your ENT a call to help with this, and not try to take care of it yourself.)
Earwax is the body’s way of keeping dirt, dust, and other debris from getting into the ear and acts as a moisturizer for the ear canal. Old earwax naturally gets rid of itself over time and during bathing, but in rare cases, it can build up. If this is the case, you should NOT do what you might have previously believed is acceptable, including:
- Over-cleaning your ears. This can irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and increase impacted earwax.
- Putting anything smaller than your elbow into your ear. This can cause injuries to your ear canal, including perforation of the eardrum or dislocation of the tiny bones in the ear that enable hearing. Such injuries can result in hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, or other issues.
- Using ear candles. This is a fad with no scientific evidence of effectiveness and can actually do more harm than good.
Instead, make an appointment with your otolaryngologist, who will be able to determine the best course of action for you.
We at OOA are your ENT experts. We are excited to educate and support you in all things ENT.