Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced to protect the ear from damage and infections. It is produced in the ear canal and normally accumulates and then dries up and falls out of the canal. It rids the ear of dust or sand particles and repels water, which can cause infections. Without ear wax, our ears would be dry, itchy and unprotected.
Ear wax is made up of various different materials depending on materials found in the canal. The wax can be soft and almost liquid or firm and solid. It can consist of skin cells, bacteria and water. The production and clearing of ear wax is natural and self-sufficient, so cleaning should never be needed. However, ear wax tends to accumulate in the ear canal for a number of reasons. The ear canal may narrow from an infection, the wax may not be as soft or too much wax may have been produced. If an extreme amount of wax builds up, it may need to be cleaned with a microsope, or lavaged, by your doctor. Ear drops may also be prescribed to soften the wax and allow it to be cleared out.
While Q-tips and other small objects are often used to clean out wax, they actually do more harm than good. Ear wax is formed in the outer part of the canal and long objects like Q-tips only push the wax further back into the ear. These objects can also perforate the eardrum and cause infections and more serious problems. To help soften ear wax, you should simply flush the ears with a solution of vinegar and water, half and half, once a week. Talk to your doctor if you have recurrent ear wax problems.
Treatment of Ear Disorders
Otolaryngology also involves the diagnosis and treatment of ear diseases, as well as hearing and balance disorders, including tinnitus, ear infections (otitis media), hearing loss, Meniere’s disease and others. These conditions may cause symptoms such as ear pain, headaches, fever, dizziness, hearing loss and discharge. Many ear conditions are especially common in children, who may require special care for their condition.
Our doctors are specially trained to handle all aspects of inner ear conditions, which play a major role in the functioning of the eyes, bones and joints to help maintain balance.
Treatment for these conditions often involves hearing aids, ear tubes, medication, surgery or other approaches. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition and overall health.
Pediatric and Adult Ear Tubes
Those who suffer from repeat ear infections or fluid in the ear may benefit from ear tubes. Ear tubes are plastic inserts that are surgically placed in the eardrum to help air enter the middle ear, allow fluid drainage, prevent future buildup of fluid and restore hearing. Most patients experience a significant reduction in the number of ear infections from this treatment, as well as relief from hearing loss and associated symptoms.