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February 28, 2020
 

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Weekend doctor: Earwax is good for us

Qtip use not recommended

By Jessica L. Schulte, PA-C, MPH, MSBS
ENT and Allergy Specialists of NWO
Earwax: Gross right? While many of us do not like to see or hear about earwax (cerumen), it is actually healthy for us to have some earwax. Earwax is a natural process and serves as a lubricator and protector against debris, bacteria, fungi, water and foreign objects.

There are times when earwax gets impacted and this causes pain or hearing loss. Ear wax removal is indicated in cases of hearing loss or when the eardrum needs to be visualized.

Qtip use is not recommended as it pushes ear wax further down and closer to the eardrum. Qtips can cause irritation, bleeding and bruising to the canal. Also, while ear candles are tempting, they do not actually remove ear wax. Instead, they can leave behind a residue on the eardrum and side effects include pain, ear infections, burns of the ear canal, hearing loss and a hole in the eardrum (perforation).

With this being said, earwax is good for us and unless it is causing symptoms, we do not recommend removal. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend seeing someone to look at the ears instead of trying home treatments, as they could increase risk of infection and cause further impaction. Believe it or not earwax is not gross to doctors and they would be happy to discuss options of how to remove ear wax safely in the office or at home.