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Wax On, Wax Off: How to Care for Your Ears

By Sara Butler

Do you regularly clean out your ears? If you do, then you’re in good company, because so do 90 percent of Americans according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Yes, many people will use cotton swabs, bobby pins, toothpicks, or any number of other scary sounding implements to try to dig out their earwax without ever realizing that they simply don’t have to. As your grandmother used to tell you, you shouldn’t be sticking anything smaller than your elbow in your ear – and here’s why!

Earwax: Should It Be Cleaned?

Earwax is known in the medical community as cerumen. It helps to protect your ear from infection and also lubricates the outer canal of the ear. It’s created by glands in the ear canal and is normally moved out of the ear canal by the motion in your jaw.

Some people experience a phenomenon called impaction, in whic the secretions of the glands seem to slow down and the wax builds up. It can cause ringing in the ears, itching, a feeling of fullness, and hearing loss. The risk of this happening is pretty low, but it does increase with age since the ears become drier. When it does happen is the only time your ears need to be cleaned. Otherwise, the ear tends to just take care of itself.

Why You Should Never Use a Cotton Swab

The wax buildup and blockage that happens to some people can be made worse by attempting to clean out your own ears – especially with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs only serve to push the wax into the ear canal, causing a blockage.

What many people don’t know is that ear wax is created at the outer part of the ear canal, so there’s really no reason to dig in there to get it – if things are healthy, anyway.

You may have seen something called an ear candle that claims to remove wax buildup in the ears. These should be avoided since they’re not effective nor is it a good idea to stick anything down into your ear. You take the chance of puncturing your eardrum. Plus, that whole flame right next to your head thing is ill-advised.

If you’re having problems with your ears, seek medical help – don’t try to remedy it yourself! Do you hear that?

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.


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