Cleaning the ears

Cleaning the ears

As a practice nurse, one of my jobs is to irrigate ears to rid of impacted earwax. I actually do find it interesting seeing what comes out (it’s awesome, but sorry for those who finds it gross!!). I’ve removed insects, ear plugs made out wax ( do not use these they are difficult to remove!) and the good old earwax stuck in the ear.

As well as satisfying when my patients say

“Ahh.. that’s much better!”

“I can hear now.”

The ears play such an important role in our lives. From listening to music, communicating to others and for keeping our balance, the ears make it all possible.

Did you know that ears are self- cleaning? That is to say ear wax should just dry out and falls off without many of us noticing. Ear wax functions to protect ears by trapping dirt, bacteria and dust and transporting it out of the ear canal.

Earwax is produced by tiny glands in the outer third of the ear canal. If one uses an ear bud to clean the ears there is a potential of pushing the wax down the ear canal towards the ear drum compacting the ear wax. This could result to hearing impairment and a risk to infections.

Some people do suffer from impacted ear wax. Our general tip is to apply ear drops you can buy from the pharmacy or even olive oil at home to help soften the earwax. Do this for three days in the morning and at night and see us for ear irrigation if it remains unsolved.

The ear irrigation is a painless and some may describe it as an uncomfortable procedure.  Some even reckons its soothing (I had a patient who said “ooooh that’s lovely!).  The procedure of ear syringing or a better term ear irrigation is simply about rinsing ears gently with warm water. We use an otoscope which helps us magnify and view what’s in the outer ear canal.

I guess the main take away message is to take care of your ears. Do not poke it with cotton buds as it will clean itself. You may wish to clean your actual ears using a soapy cloth. But never ever  put anything solid inside your ear. For any other queries and problems it is best to consult your doctor.