Impacted Ear wax
The ear wax or cerumen is formed inside the ear canal as a reaction to the presence of dirt, dust, and other foreign substances that enter the ears. It engulfs the foreign substances to prevent it from entering the inner ear. Too much secretion of ear wax results to the development of impacted ear wax or cerumen impaction.
Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of an Impacted Cerumen
Impacted cerumen is an ear condition caused by overproduction of cerumen in the ears. Normally, cerumen is produced in small amounts only. It can be removed twice a week. In some instances, the cerumen can become a problem, especially when there are too much of it that clogged the ear. The cerumen hardens and very difficult to remove as time passes.
There are different reasons why the ear has impacted cerumen. The most common cause is the improper removal of ear wax. The use of cotton applicator while cleaning the ear pushes some of the cerumen inward down to the bottom of the ear canal. Later on, the ear is clogged by the hardened cerumen. Another cause is the presence of a foreign body inside the ear. Anything that gets inside the ear is an irritant that cause the production of cerumen. This situation is common among underwater swimmers. There are times wherein insects like; fly, mosquito, small cockroach, and maggots enter the ear without the person noticing it. Maybe it is because he/she is asleep when that happened. To prevent the foreign body from getting into the inner canal, the ear canal will secrete a sticky substance that will engulf the object and it will be stuck in the ear canal. Overproduction of cerumen caused by an allergic reaction is another reaction. Just like the throat producing too much mucus after a number of foreign substances entered the nasal cavity. It is also common among people who wear hearing aids. Since the hearing aid can irritate the ear, resulting to the production of more cerumen. Another cause is infection like the otitis media and otitis externa, wherein a foul smelling cerumen is being excreted from the ear. Loud noises can also irritate the ear to produce more cerumen. A perforated ear will also produce more cerumen as part of the inflammation process. The most common cause of this condition is the poor hygiene. Some people forgot to clean their ears regularly. This is the reason why too much cerumen is left inside the ears. As time passes by, it hardens and is already difficult to remove. There are people who have overproduction of cerumen, which is already natural to them.
The signs and symptoms of impacted ear wax are: tinnitus or ringing inside the ears, temporary hearing loss, ear pain, and itchiness. The hardened ear wax can be difficult to remove.
Ways to remove impacted ear wax
Impacted cerumen is not a major problem at all as long as there is no infection. It can be removed manually at home. There are many home remedies in the removal of a hard ear wax. An easy way is the use of impacted ear wax removal hydrogen peroxide solution. This solution is a strong liquid substance and can cause irritation to the skin. It should be applied carefully inside the ear. With the use of a dropper, two drops of it is enough to soften the hard cerumen. It will come out or can be manually after twenty minutes. Oil based substance such as baby oil and the olive can soften the cerumen. A traditional way of removing the impacted cerumen is the ear candling. It is done by using a hollowed candle. The end of the hollowed candle is lighted and the other end is inserted in the outer part of the ear. The heat from the candle will produce a vacuum that will pull the ear wax out. Though a traditional remedy, it is somehow effective among the people who have tried it. A small curette partnered with a penlight can be used to remove the ear wax manually and is safe to use. It allows easy visualization of the middle ear and allows the visualization of the ear wax location. This equipment is readily available in the shops and drugstores. Improper removal of the impacted cerumen using force will only result to injury to the ear.
In case there is no success in removing the impacted cerumen at home. The ENT doctor will do the procedure in removing the impacted cerumen. A syringe without a needle is filled with an irrigating solution. The solution is plunged into the ear. It will then soften the hard earwax. A small curette and a vacuum instrument are used to manually remove the hard substance out of the ear. When there is already an infection, antibiotic ear drops are applied to the ear.
A regular check up is required for people who have recurrent ear infections to prevent further complications. The ear is connected to the nose and is also connected near the brain. The ear must be cleaned regularly. Cerumen production is normal to the body. Too much cleaning of the ear will result to perforation of the ear tissues. Be careful not to use sharp materials as a cleaning device for the ear. It may accidentally hit the eardrum. Never force a cotton applicator into the ear whenever the ear wax is hard to remove. It only indicates impacted cerumen. Instead use a hydrogen peroxide solutions or oil based liquids to soften it for easy removal. Prevent the occurrence of insects inside the home by keeping it clean and using screened doors instead to prevent unwanted pests. Keep your fingernails short. There are instances we unnoticeably insert our dirty fingers into the ear in times it gets itchy. Long fingernails may harbour dirt and may injure the ear canal and cause infection. We should take care of our ear which is one of the most vital organs.