Earwax

Cerumen or earwax is healthy in normal amounts and serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties. Most of the time the ear canals are self-cleaning; that is, there is a slow and orderly migration of earwax and skin cells from the eardrum to the ear opening. However, often wax can be pushed unintentionally against the eardrum, if cotton-tipped applicators, bobby pins, or twisted napkin corners are used to try to clean. These objects only push the wax in deeper. Symptoms of excess cerumen include earache, fullness in the ear, or a sensation the ear is plugged, hearing loss, ear ringing, itching or odor/discharge. To clear wax at home, patients can try placing a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or commercial agents such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide may also aid in the removal of wax. Sometimes cerumen persists and needs to be removed manually in the office using a microsope and specialized tools under direct vision. Caution is advised to avoid having your ears irrigated if you have diabetes, a perforated eardrum, tube in the eardrum, or a weakened immune system.

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