It is not what you can do for your earwax, but what your earwax can do for you.
Whether or not work relocated from the office to your bed during Covid-19, the pandemic has encouraged us to stay home. For many of you, you’re spending more time with your family than you have in a long time, sharing workspace amidst everything else. The loss of boundaries that work and school bring have unmasked our petty annoyances and compulsive behaviors. However, in spite of these casual frustrations, you’ve noticed something more concerning than lip-smacking and dish-clanging. Calling across the room that dinner is ready for the fourth time with no response, you stand amazed, realizing that your wife may be suffering from something other than “selective hearing.” You ask yourself, has the stress of the pandemic brought on early onset hearing loss? How will we afford hearing aids this year?
While hearing loss can be a complex issue, it’s often very simple: excessive earwax. When there’s too much wax, hearing wanes. However, this issue frequently stems from a larger misconception that daily wax removal is a normal element of personal hygiene. The singular presence of earwax isn’t something to be remedied if hearing remains clear. Earwax is a part of the natural design of the ear to keep it safe from outside contaminants, and even flushes out old wax with the movement of the jaw. Therefore, barring pain and hearing loss, your ears really are better off left alone.
Earwax Removal (DIY)
Unfortunately, people have decided that an empty ear is a healthy ear. Q-Tip addicts compulsively swab after daily showering. This ingrained pattern leaves many wax grabbers wanting, as the solution they seek creates a recurring problem—an itch that can never be scratched as long as the scratcher continues to disrupt nature’s all-in-one cleanser-lubricant. A vicious cycle that can lead to hearing loss, and even damage.
A cotton swab appears docile enough, but unfortunately many q-tip addicts grow q-tipsy and advance to more intense treatments, like water irrigation, ear vacs, and ear candling. Cotton swabs act as a placebo; while they remove some of the wax, they ultimately push wax deeper into the ear canal. This deep impaction can lead to hearing damage because it limits the vibratory range of the ear drum. Water irrigation can be moderately effective yet can lead to serious infection if water reaches the middle ear. Ear vacs are proven to be ineffective, and ear candling remains unproven. Additionally, the Food & Drug Administration is leery that hot wax could burn the delicate ear tissues, causing serious damage.
Earwax Removal By A Professional
If you are a wax removing addict of any kind and are experiencing hearing loss, wax impaction is most likely the offender. However, genetics play a role in the production and consistency of earwax, too. You may naturally create stickier or dryer earwax, resulting in a buildup. Whether the wax impaction is the product of compulsive behaviors or genetics, Dr. Benke strongly suggests visiting a professional, preferably a specialist, to guide you through this process. ENT specialists are trained to gently and effectively remove wax with small tools under microscopic visualization so that there’s no mess and no damage.
Mom was right when she told you not to put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear—and not because she’s a buzz-kill—because she knew you’d never be able to look inside your own ear. The ear canal is so narrow and delicate, that it requires equally narrow and delicate instruments to reach the deeply lodged wax. Consequently, those instruments require the sight and expertise of an ear doctor to safely complete the task.
Hearing loss isn’t the only symptom of earwax impaction, but it is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss. So, if you are experiencing hearing loss, call an ENT specialist before stressing over the financial burden of hearing aids. Professional wax removal is affordable, effective, and safe. If earwax annoys you, consider speaking with a specialist to devise a long-term solution, and remember: earwax removal isn’t a job that works from home.