Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Cerumen(a soft yellow wax secreted by glands in the ear canal), also called earwax, is made by the body to protect the ears. The earwax has both lubricating and antibacterial properties. Most of the time, the old earwax is moved through the ear canal by motions from chewing and other jaw movements. At that time, it reaches the outside of the ear and flakes off. Cerumen is produced in the outer part of the ear canal, not deep inside the ear.
Cerumen is produced in the outer ear canal, from where it is carried to the opening of the ear by the slow movement of the outer layer of the skin of the ear canal. Once, cerumen reaches the opening of the ear, it dries out or just flakes off. This is how old cerumen is removed and this process is facilitated by jaw movements and activities like, chewing. But, when there is an excess production of cerumen, the ear may fail to naturally remove cerumen in this way. This can lead to accumulation of earwax inside the ear.
Another common cause of cerumen impaction is the use of cotton-tipped swab, or any other objects to remove earwax. Such attempts can push the cerumen or earwax deeper into the ear canal. Apart from these, use of hearing aids, a narrow or twisted ear canal, use of earplugs, as well as old age are certain other factors that can increase the likelihood of impacted cerumen impaction.
Following are the symptoms of Cerumen impaction
• A feeling of fullness in the ear .
• Pain in the ear .
• Difficulty hearing, which may continue to worsen .
• Ringing in the ear (tinnitus) .
• A feeling of itchiness in the ear .
• Discharge from the ear .
• Odor coming from the ear .
• Dizziness .
Impacted cerumen can be detected by examining the ear, the ear canal and eardrum with the help of an otoscope. Impacted cerumen is usually removed by irrigating or flushing the ear with water. Physicians may use syringe or other flushing equipment for this purpose. But, if the accumulated cerumen has become too hard, then some cerumenolytic solution may be required to soften it, before irrigating the ear. The most commonly used cerumenolytic solutions or agents for earwax removal such as mineral oil, baby oil, peroxide-based ear drops, saline solution, and glycerin.
Earwax removal can happen in a few ways; some of these methods can be done at home.
• Cleaning the outside of the ear by wiping with a cloth.
• Putting cerumenolytic solutions (solutions to dissolve wax) into the ear canal — these solutions include mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, water, peroxide-based ear drops (such as Debrox®), hydrogen peroxide, and saline solution.
• Irrigating or syringing the ear—this involves using a syringe to rinse out the ear canal with water or saline, generally after the wax has been softened or dissolved by a cerumenolytic.
• Removing the wax manually using special instruments—this should be done only by a health care provider who might use a cerumen spoon or suction device.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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