This new year is the year to quit that particular habit after some new guidelines have shown that the best thing you can do for your ears is to just leave them alone.
On Tuesday, the American Academy of Otolaryngology released updated guidelines concerning the treatment of impacted ear wax.
Impacted ear wax is basically the painful buildup of the substance that naturally coats our outer ear canal and the organization’s simple suggestion for curbing its menace is that people do not clean their ears to begin with.
According to them, contrary to popular belief, ear wax is not a sign of uncleanliness but rather a mechanism that helps the ear stay clean. It basically does what mucus does for our lungs; protecting the ear from certain bacterial and fungal infections by acting like a sticky trap, after which it flushes them out with our jaw movement.
There are a couple of things that apparently make the grooming ritual of cleaning out one’s ear pretty dangerous. The most obvious is that some people often accidentally go too deep, damaging their ear drums, but that’s not all. There is also the possibility of clogging your ears with ear wax instead of clearing it out.
Doctors found that the process usually ends up pushing earwax further into the ear canal. There the earwax can unnaturally clump together causing problems like ear pain, ringing, loss of hearing or even infection which can lead to odorous discharge.
The known intervention for this malaise can also be pretty dangerous. Doctors have been known to irrigate ears with water or oil, or carefully use tools to scrape, scoop, pick or suction out the mass. A more dangerous option is the use of ear candles which are basically foot-long cones of linen or cotton soaked in beeswax, inserted in the ear, and lit on fire on the outer end to create a vacuum to draw out extra wax.
Ear candles are not at all a recommended route of intervention. They could cause burns and even more wax buildup, this time from an external source.
The current guidelines suggest that doctors shouldn’t remove any earwax unless it’s causing any problems. There is also a continued insistence by doctors over the years that you should not place anything smaller than your elbow into your ear. This includes cotton swabs, tips and covers of pens, matches and other handy tools you may have utilized in the past.