Did you know that every year, almost 12 million Americans go to their doctors with some serious earwax issues? It’s what’s known as “impacted or excessive cerumen,” and with so many patients coming in with it, it’s no surprise that there’s about eight million earwax removal procedures conducted by medical experts annually, indicates the AAO-HNSF.
Many of these check-ups are because of continued use of cotton swabs that people use to “clean” their ears. But your ears only need to be cleaned if you notice differences in your hearing that might stem from wax accumulation. The AAO-HNSF is so convinced that you shouldn’t stick cotton swabs in your ears that it sent out an official statement regarding earwax removal for physicians and patients alike. In fact, the website for Q-Tips (the most well-known cotton swab brand) suggests only using them “around the outer ear, without entering the ear canal.”
But…that doesn’t mean…you should just stop cleaning your ears altogether, right? In actuality, you’ve begun a vicious cycle if you frequently use cotton swabs to clean your ears, says Douglas Backous, M.D., chair of the hearing committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF). That’s because the more you rub your ears, the more histamine your skin releases– which only makes that area of your skin more itchy. Also, since earwax is a natural lubricant, scratching it out can make your ears drier, making it more likely that you use more swabs in a vain hope to find relief.
But if you just can’t seem to stop scratching your ears, Backous suggests putting a few drops of a recipe consisting of one part white vinegar, one part rubbing alcohol, and one part tap water in each ear. Make sure the water is at room temperature, or it could make you feel dizzy if it’s too warm or chilled. Even then, though, Backous warns: “I can tell you, there is nothing good about putting anything in your ear.” A story like this reminds us all that heading to the professionals is always best when it comes to medical issues.
Always remember to consult your physician or chiropractor before taking any health advice.
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