What is Earwax (Plug)?
The word known as earwax is expressed as a plug in the medical language. The secretion called cerumen, secreted from the glands in the external ear canal, protects the eardrum from harmful substances. Cerumen is a secretion secreted by the body to protect against dangers such as bacteria, dust and dirt particles that may come from the external environment. After this secretion fulfills its task, it dries up and is thrown into the auricle. The secretion that has undergone this process is also called earwax or plug.
Even though earwax is a secretion that protects the ear canal and ear, it can sometimes accumulate too much, causing interruptions in hearing and making it uncomfortable. Therefore, people can try to clean the ear and remove the blockage with their own methods.
Ear cleaning attempts that people try to do at home with hard and sharp objects (ear sticks, toothpicks, skewers) are quite dangerous. Cerumen secretion can be wiped off during these procedures, leaving the ear vulnerable to bacteria, dust and dirt. Hard and foreign objects inserted into the ear change the pH and fatty acid content of the ear, destroy the ear secretion and make it open to infections.
In addition, unconscious movements may push the plug into the inner parts of the ear and cause the ear to become blocked. It can also cause damage to the very sensitive ear tissues.
It would be a very right decision to limit your personal cleaning process to the outer ear and to see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor in case of problems that occur inside your ear.
Why Does Earwax Occur?
The plug, called earwax, is a body secretion that has completed its function and is normally thrown into the auricle by the ear. That’s why it’s wrong to call it earwax. Cerumen is produced continuously, protecting the eardrum.
The drying of the cerumen, which constantly filters the air, by trapping the particles, leads to the formation of semi-solid objects called plugs.
In other words, the reason for the formation of the plug is due to the contact of the particles in the air with the ear.
The reasons for the accumulation of earwax, known as earwax, in the ear are listed below:
- Working or being in dusty and dirty environments for a long time
- Swelling of the plug after swimming or taking a bath
- Failure to put the plug out of the ear due to the structural narrowing of the external ear canal.
- Using devices such as hearing aids, earplugs and earplugs
- Trying to constantly clean the ear with foreign objects
What Are The Symptoms Of Earwax?
The fact that the cerumen secretion, which has completed its maturity, can not accumulate in the ear for various reasons and be thrown out, may show itself with some symptoms:
- Pain in the ear.
- A feeling of fullness in the ear.
- Interruption of hearing.
- A buzzing or ringing in the ear.
- Itching and irritation of the ear.
- Dark discharge and odor from the ear.
- Dry cough bouts.
How is the Ear Cleaning Procedure Performed by the Physician?
Ear cleaning should be done by wiping the outer ear with a cloth; No foreign objects, including cotton swabs, should be used in the external ear canal.
The methods used in the treatment of plug are as follows:
Ear Lavage (Water Washing)
Among the most commonly used methods for cleaning earplugs, ear burning, “lavage” in the medical language comes to the fore. A special solution is used for the lavage process.
And thanks to this solution, all harmful structures in the ear are expelled from the ear in a healthy way. Ear washing with special instruments can be performed standing up or while the patient is sitting in a special place.
For the procedure, the kidney tub is first placed under the ear and the patient holds this material himself during the operation. The solution is placed in the device to be used for washing and the air is taken from the injector.
The ear is brought to the appropriate position for the operation and the procedure begins. The process continues until the color of the fluid coming from the ear becomes clear. Glycerin is dripped into the ear 2-3 days before the procedure. Thanks to glycerin, the dirt in the ear is softened.
If the solution given to the ear comes from the patient’s mouth during the procedure, it can be said that there is a hole in the eardrum that has already occurred. At this stage, a different cleaning process is applied. After the procedure is over, the patient can continue his daily life and there will be no observation. After the procedure, a tampon should be applied to the ear for 15-20 minutes.
Removal of Earwax with Curette:
The method of cleaning the dirt in the ear with curette can only be applied to certain patients. The curette method is more suitable, especially for patients with a perforated eardrum or struggling with other ear diseases.
Before cleaning with curette, it is aimed to soften the dirt in the ear by means of drops.
After the dirt is softened, the dirt in the ear is scraped from the ear with a medical device. The operation, which is carried out with the help of a special scraping tool, is carried out very carefully and, if necessary, imaging devices can be used.
A complete cleaning cannot be achieved during the curette cleaning process, but most of the symptoms caused by earwax are greatly reduced. The application of the procedure by experienced physicians is of great importance and the experience of the physician is an important detail in obtaining a better result.
Vacuuming with Aspirator:
Cleaning with the aspirator method is also known as cleaning with the “vacuum” method. As the name suggests, the dirt in the ear is removed with the help of a device.
Before the procedure, the dirt in the ear is first softened so that the dirt can come out much more easily.
A special drop is used to soften the dirt and after waiting for a certain time, the dirt is removed by vacuum. The aspirator method should be applied in a very detailed way. Otherwise, the dirt that remains in the ear and cannot be removed may cause infection.
Earwax cleaning can be done more easily by applying emollient oil-based solutions (glycerin) or hydrogen peroxide (oxygenated water) beforehand.
Particular attention should be paid to earwax cleaning in patients with eardrum perforation, eardrum collapse, patients with tube applied to the eardrum, uncontrolled diabetes and patients with immune deficiency, and it must be done by an otolaryngologist.
How Often Should I Have My Ear Cleaned?
Plug cleaning is not a periodic process. Whenever the ear becomes obstructed, then it is cleaned. This period may be a few months, or no cleaning may be required.
Will My Ear Get Used to Washing?
This is a completely false belief. Having ears washed has nothing to do with habit. In some people, plugs accumulate more quickly in the ear canal.