Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Most frequently asked question by people visiting ENT clinic is how to clean the ear and if I tell them it is not required, they will look at me puzzled and ask “then how to clean the wax?” Wax is normal secretion by glands of skin of ear canal just as sweat produced by glands of skin. Wax is normal protective layer for the sensitive skin of ear canal. This coating helps repel water& traps dust particles & when you clean it out you make your ear more vulnerable to infection. Chronic cleaning of ear causes dryness leading to itching, scratching and if you are cleaning it daily you know vicious circle. Continues itching may cause damage of skin and in turn bacterial & fungal infections. Sometimes accidentally if you dig down too deep you may hurt your ear-drum (I have seen patients having ear bleed when they were doing cleaning jobs religiously & there kids just jumped over them). You will be amazed to see the concentration focused on ear cleaning. Usually small amount of wax is secreted which comes out by its own, a process helped by jaw movement. Excess, hard wax causing obstruction is to be removed (20% of population have tendency to accumulate wax because of anatomical reasons) but if you try this by yourself you tend to push it further inside causing impacted wax and related problems like blocked ear, ear-pain, swelling in the ear and list doesn’t end here. Even most educated patients are very ignorant about ear and use anything they have in their hands to insert in the ear. Anything means anything they find which can go inside the ear- hair-pins, pen, pencil, paper, keys, and recently I removed a bulb of decoration-lights for “diwali” accidently trapped inside the ear while trying to clean it. But really nothing is safe not even so called sterile ear-buds available at chemist shop. Now, I hope you got the point, I usually tell my overenthusiastic patients “ear cleaning is useless job, you don’t need it if you don’t have the excess wax & you won’t be able to remove it if you have excess wax.” And yes it becomes a habit. People will often deny this fact, very difficult at times to convince them.