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May 28, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist
One day, I woke up deaf. I couldn't hear a thing. The cause of my
sudden deafness was an unusually large buildup of wax in my ears. I
had feel it coming on for months, finding more and more of the waxy
stuff even though I felt I cleaned my ears regularly.
What is ear wax anyway? Ear wax is technically called "ceramen" and it
is made up of secretions, sloughed off skin and hair found in your ear
canal. Ear wax occurs naturally in your ear canal and normally should
not cause you alarm.
In the overwhelming number of cases, ear wax will just resolve itself,
by getting pushed out gradually over time. But in some cases, the
ceramen has become impacted and may need a doctor to remove it
What Is Ceramen Impaction and Is It Dangerous?
If the amount of ear wax buildup is excessive, it can develop into a
condition called "ceramen impaction". Ceramen impaction can cause
tinnitus, the ringing in your ears, ear aches, itching, a chronic cough or
even hearing loss.
Ceramen is deposited in the ear naturally and is removed naturally by
your ears. In fact, thin of your ears as a self_cleaning oven. Just leave
them alone to clean themselves. Wait patiently for the wax to slowly
move along the ear canal and eventually, enough of the wax will be
pushed out into the outer ear where yo can wipe it away with a clean,
Cermanen naturally occurs in the last one-third of your ear canal
nearest the opening. Ceramen impaction occurs when the wax is
pushed down too deeply into the canals of your ear.
What pushes the wax down so deeply? Usually, you do. People cause
ceramen impaction by using cotton swabs or bobby pins or some other
device to clear out the wax. In doing so, they just push the wax down
further where it can eventually cause hearing loss.
Flown on an airplane lately and found that your ears are plugged?
Other common causes of ceramen impaction are wearing ear plugs,
similar to the ones you use on airline flights, cotton swabs or devices to
protect your ears.
Ceramen impactions occurs in about 57% of people living in nursing
homes, 10 percent of children, 5 percent of normal healthy adults, and
36 percent of patients with mental retardation, according to a 2007
study led by Dr. Daniel McCarter of the University of Virginia Health
We have gathered the 7 most effective ways to clean your ears safely
and those that you should avoid.
1. Chew Gum to Reduce Ear Wax
Ear wax builds up inside the ear and is moved along by chewing.
Excessive ear wax could mean that you are not chewing enough to
move the wax along. This can happen if you change your diet to cut
back on meals. To add more "chews" to your day, try chewing
Moving the wax along the ear canal takes time. Add a pack of gum per
day for a month to see if the wax buildup decreases.
2. Use Mineral Oil to Soften the Wax in Your Ears
You can safely remove wax buildup in your rears by softening the wax
with mineral oil.
Apply one or two drops in the morning. Applying the oil in the morning
will allow it to work evenly in both ears during the day. You also chew
while you are awake, so adding oil drops during the day as opposed to
the night will let you naturally move the softened wax along by
3. Use Baby Oil to Soften the Wax in Your Ears
baby oil works as safely as mineral oil to soften wax in your ear canal.
However, you should avid using baby oil which has been perfumed or
which contains any added ingredients such as aloe vera.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide Is used to Clean Ears
This remedy is not as widely known but it is effective. In fact, in
Europe, a commonly used ear solution is made up mainly of hydrogen
peroxide and an oil. You can also use carbamide peroxide.
5. Avoid Using Certain Kinds of Ear Plugs
Using ear plugs is sometimes necessary to protect your ears from loud
noises. But, unfortunately, these protective devices can sometimes
push ear wax too deeply down your ear canal and cause problems. If
you must use ear protection devices , prefer to use ones that are not
inserted into your ear but instead rest outside your ear like ear muffs.
6. Do Not Use Ear Candles to Clean Your Ears
A popular remedy for cleaning the ears is "candling". This procedure
involves placing a hollow ended waxy cone in the ear and burning the
cone at one end.
Ear candling is neither effective nor safe. In 1996, Dr. Daniel R. Seely
completed a study of ear candling, which was presented at the Meeting
of the Western Section of the American Laryngological, Rhinological
and Otological Society. From a survey of 122 ear specialists, the
doctors found that in cases where candling was used, no ear wax was
removed. Moreover, in 22 of the cases, doctors reported serious injury
to the ear.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to
consumers to steer clear of products being sold as ear candles.
7. Do Not Clear Your Ears with Bobby Pins or Cotton Swabs
I did this when I was a child. The bobby pin was the go-to instrument
for cleaning out that brown waxy build-up. All I got for my trouble
Most cases of hearing loss are caused by attempts to clean out the ear
with unsafe objects such as bobby pins and cotton swabs.
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|Using ear plugs can cause ear
wax build up.