Time again to discuss ear wax removal. As a nation, we seem to be obsessed with football, baseball, food and ear wax. Yes, ear wax. Everyday I get more and more elaborate questions about how to remove ear wax and which kit to use to remove it. There is an easy answer — none of the above.
Wax is made by glands deep in the ear and serves as an anti-bacterial. Once it has served its purpose, tiny hairs work to move the wax to the outer portion of the ear canal and then it comes out.
Excess build-up of wax can occur for many reasons but the take home point is that you should not use any kits, instruments, pins etc to try and remove ear wax. Using these types of items could result in permanent hearing loss, bleeding or infections. Otolaryngologists have special tools and microscopes to remove the wax safely so you can hear better while avoiding untoward complications.
Our ears are meant to last a lifetime. As we live longer it is critically important to take active steps early in life to protect your hearing.
1. Turn down the music in your car, MP3 player and on the T.V.
2. Bring a gift and a set of ear plugs when you attend celebrations such as weddings or large parties.
3. When exercising try to use head phones that go over the ear.
4. If you are working in a noisy environment, wear ear protection.
5. Avoid loud concerts if possible.
If you notice ringing in the ears or a change in your hearing you should undergo a full hearing evaluation by an ear specialist.
Everday on Long Island, I see patients with wax accumulation in their ears. Wax is a normal secretion produced by glands in the ear. It serves to protect the ear from infection and lubricate the ear canal. Unfortunately, sometimes people produce or accumulate excess amounts of wax. Many patients will then try over the counter drops to get it out. Worse yet, others attempt to remove it with Q-tips or other instruments. Do not do this! Instrumenting your ear will push the wax deeper or can lead to damage of the delicate skin in the ear canal. Using foreign objects in the ear can also lead to puncture of the tympanic membrane (eardrum) resulting in hearing loss. If you are prone to excess wax buildup or are experiencing a clogging sensation in the ear, seek professional ENT help. Using our tiny instruments and other specialized equipment, we will be able to safely get the wax out leaving you with an uninjured and clean ear canal.
Tinnitus is the ear, nose and throat specialist’s term for noise in the ear. As ENT doctors, we define noise as any sound that a patient is hearing that is NOT coming from the outside world. Some common words patients use to describe it are: humming, ringing, buzzing, or hissing. The tinnitus can be high pitch or low.
The first step if you experience tinnitus is to see an ear, nose and throat doctor. In my office, I first perform a complete ENT exam followed by a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Using these tests, I then determine a plan of action. Contrary to popular belief, tinnitus can be helped and patients can go on to live healthier and more productive lives once this extraneous noise has “quietened” down.