When it comes to ear wax removal, the general rule is simple: if it is not causing issues, it is best to leave it alone.
Small amounts of ear wax are actually useful, as it protects the lining of the ear canal and the eardrum from germ-causing infections and irritation from dust and dirt. Your ears will feel dry, uncomfortable, and itchy if there is not enough ear wax. However, ear wax can sometimes build up and cause blockage in the ear canal. If it starts to affect hearing or causes discomfort or pain, an ear wax removal procedure is a must. Ear wax removal in Singapore (https://www.drbenmedical.sg/ear-wax-removal-singapore/) is performed by licensed doctors and it involves a variety of techniques, which will be discussed in this article. Other related topics that will be covered include:
- Why do ears make wax?
- When should I seek medical treatment for earwax?
- What are the available treatment options for ear wax removal in Singapore?
- And last but not the least: some tips on how to (and how not to) clean your ears
Why do ears make wax?
The medical term for ear wax is cerumen, and it comes from the Latin word cera, which means wax. Contrary to popular belief, ear wax is not dirt. Instead, it is made up of dead skin cells and fatty secretions from the glands in the walls of the outer ear canal. It is a naturally occurring substance that coats, protects, and lubricates the lining of the ear canal. Furthermore, the presence of ear wax or cerumen indicates that a person’s ears are healthy and functioning well. It has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, too, and it serves as a filter by trapping small particles in the outer section of the ear canal so that they do not bury deep inside. The wax makes its way from the outer ear canal and into the opening of the ear with the help of jaw movements, or when a person chews or talks. When the wax dries up, it typically falls out of the ears, along with any trapped dirt.
When should I seek medical treatment for earwax?
As mentioned above, earwax comes out by itself, so there is no need to remove it. But for some people, excessive earwax can build up, harden, and cause blockage to the canal, especially when pushed in by a cotton swab, a finger, or other object. This is called cerumen impacted and may cause pain and loss of hearing. Other symptoms of cerumen impaction include ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus), itching, an unpleasant odor or discharge from the ear, a plugged-like feeling in the ears, decreased hearing, and dizziness. When the impacted has progressed into an infection, there might be coughing, fever, and vomiting along with the other symptoms. In this case, you need to get medical treatment to remove the blockage or impaction.
A word of advice from the experts – never attempt to remove the excessive or hardened earwax yourself, as it may only push the wax further into the ear and result in damage to the eardrum or the lining of the ear canal. You should see a doctor immediately to make sure that ear wax is the reason behind the symptoms.
What are the available treatment options for ear wax removal in Singapore?
Removal of ear wax is one of the most common otolaryngologic procedures performed in Singapore. But before your doctor performs any sort of procedure, they will evaluate the symptoms first and look inside your ear using an instrument called otoscope. To determine the cause of your condition, your doctor may ask the following questions:
- How long have you been experiencing the symptoms?
- Have you ever had trouble hearing or earache in the past?
- How often do the symptoms appear – frequently or intermittently?
Based on you answers and the result of the physical examination, your health care provider will be able to come up with the proper treatment plan.
There are different ways to remove earwax. The doctor can scoop the wax out using the miniscule plastic spoon called curette, or they can dislodge it by applying light pressure though water flushing (ear irrigation or syringing). The latter is quite effective, but it comes with the risk of pushing the earwax further toward the eardrum and damaging it in the process. Then there is water retention, or the possibility of having water remain in the patient’s ear, which can lead to infection.
Another way to remove earwax is by using gentle suction. This is also known as micro-suction and is considered more effective than other earwax removal options. During the procedure, the doctor probes the canal of the ear with an otoscope . Aside from removing hardened ear wax, this treatment option is also effective in removing ear discharge and foreign objects that get stuck inside the ear.
Tips on how to (and how not to) clean your ears
Cleaning the ears is a simple and straightforward affair – no overly-complicated and fancy tricks like ear candling and essential oils, please. If you do not have any ear wax buildup that need medical attention, you can use a washcloth to clean the outside of your ears after you take a bath. You can soften earwax by using a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, or glycerin. You can also buy an over the counter was softener if you prefer – just make sure that you ask your doctor which one is best for you and how to use it.
No matter how tempting the urge is, do not attempt to put objects such as cotton swab, paper clip, or a hairpin inside your ear! It is ineffective and will definitely do more harm than good. It is also not advisable to clean your ears too hard or too often. Even if you clean your ears properly, you may still get wax build-up because of the way your ear canals are shaped or the way your sebaceous and sweat glands produce wax. If you find it troublesome, you can talk to your doctor about scheduling a routine ear wax removal.
Dr Ben Medical @ Raffles Place
1 Raffles Pl, #04-50, Singapore 048616
+65 888 12344 | +65 888 12344