Impacted ear wax is one of the commonest cause of temporary deafness both in adults and children. Our ear produces wax to protect the ear canal and to give it a waterproof coating. But sometimes for some reason, there is a build up of ear wax which causes symptoms of deafness, itching, earache and sometimes even infections.
The usage of cotton buds to clean the ear is a common practice globally. It is one of the common causes of impacted ear wax. The tip of the cotton bud acts like a ram rod and pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal while it cleans the sides of the ear canal. Everyone knows how satisfying it is to have your ear canals cleaned, which explains why people continue to do it.
I once had a patient with 80% deafness in one ear. On examination, there was a huge plug of wax in the ear and it took me quite a long time to extract all of it. What I managed to extract will give you goose bumps. It was a piece of waxy, mouldy cotton bud tip which had been lying in the ear for who knows how long!
So please be advised not to put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear!
What you can do:
- Use ear drops to soften the wax
- Avoid using cotton buds
- When using a hair dryer, avoid blowing the warm air into the ear as it may cause the wax to harden
- Do not try to use a pair of tweezers or any instruments to dig out the wax as you may accidentally perforate the ear drum
- Do not try to syringe out the ear wax yourself, as it there might be a middle ear infection so you might accidentally cause a perforation of the ear drum.
- Visit your doctor if you suspect that there is a lot of wax built up in the ear
A Word on Ear Candling
This is quite popular nowadays and I guess it can be quite soothing to undergo the procedure. There has been a few reported cases of injuries caused by ear candling that you should be aware of. To read more about Ear Candling, please click here.