Have you ever felt the need to clean your ears with earbuds from the discomfort of ear wax accumulating inside your ear canal, or wonder where ear wax even comes from?
How do I get rid of this ear discomfort and hear better?
Look no further as we seek to clarify some of the doubts you face and possibly help you hear better.
What Exactly is Earwax?
It is an accumulation of dead skin from the ear canal, dirt and cerumen produced in the ear. Its purpose is to act as a protective barrier for the ear. Ordinarily, your ear should be capable of ‘self-cleansing’ by clearing the ear wax out of the ear canal.
However, problems arise when symptoms appear. Symptoms such as earache and discomfort, blocked ears, ringing sounds in the ear, difficulty in hearing in a noisier environment, ear discharge or even children not doing well in school because of hearing difficulties
What Can I Do About It ?
Sometimes because of many reasons, ‘ self-cleansing’ of the ear wax by the body isn’t effective due to the digging of the ears which pushes the ear wax further in, narrow ear canals or even previous ear surgery which affects the ear canal and ear wax that thicker and stickier
At home, people have tried using QTIPs to pick at the wax or even cotton buds. While this is successful sometimes, it is difficult to remove the chronic or thicker ear wax through this approach. It can also cause external ear infections when this QTIPs scratch the ear canals to cause an abrasion, and worse still if not careful it can cause a eardrum perforation (hole)!
Fret not, if in doubt, there are solutions such as ear toilet by your doctors. This is the removal of ear wax and relieving of patient’s discomfort. There are different methods of removal. By instrumentation under direct visualization to avoid damage to the surrounding ear canal and eardrum and lastly microsuction of ear wax which might be considered as one of the safer options.
Instrumentation and Microsuction (Ear Toliet)
While microsuction and instrumentation carry some inherent risks, this is one of the safest earwax removal procedures when used with direct visualization by your doctor.
This enables your doctor to clean the ear canal with greater precision and reduce patient discomfort whilst concurrently inspecting the ear canal and tympanic membrane (eardrum) in detail. As an ancillary benefit, this method allows 2-handed working which further minimizes the risks of human error.
Due to the increased precision and stability, microsuction is often used in situations where ear irrigation is inappropriate or for patients with a deficiency in the eardrum (eg hole in the ear) or having previous ear surgeries.
The alternative to this is ear syringing with water pushed into the ear, however, should not be done for any patients with an active ear infection or discharge, a previous hole in the eardrum, any surgery recently in the ears.
Who will benefit from the procedure?
- Patients with ear infection will benefit as ear irrigation will not be safe in this group of patients;
- Patient with build- up of ear wax causing symptoms;
- Patient with anatomical variations of the ear canal;
- Patient wearing hearing aids; and
- Children who able to understand instructions and willing to cooperate.
What should be done before the procedure?
- Instillation of Cerumwax softening agents (like olive oil) should be recommended.
- Instillation of drops approximately 3 times a day 2-3 drops and to remain on the same side approx. 3– 5 mins after
What should be done after the procedure?
It is advised that a formal hearing evaluation is conducted after the wax removal procedure to ensure good hearing has been restored, especially in situations where a patient had suffered a loss of hearing before the procedure.
How long does the procedure take?
This clinic procedure usually takes between 15-20 minutes.
What else can this be done for?
- Apart from wax, this can be used for removing foreign body.
- Ear infection will also benefit from this form of ear toilet.
- It enables the insertion of a soft medicated sponge for patients with severe ear infection.
Speak to one of our friendly doctors today if you would like to address your blocked ear discomfort symptoms!