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As we all do, or have done before, we use cotton buds, hair clips, Q-Tips, pen covers, even broomsticks to poke our ears. Is this right? Of course, the excuses we give ourselves include; “my ear is dirty”, “there is wax in my ears”, “I need to clean my ears” and so on. But what is Ear Wax? Is it dirty or unhealthy to have ear wax? Is it something we must go to any length to remove from our ears? I will attempt to demystify the assumptions associated with Ear Wax and encourage safer ear cleaning.

The ear is actually a canal or a tube of some sorts. It is divided into the outer ear (pinna), the middle ear(eardrum) and the inner ear. Cerumen is the medical term for Ear Wax. In other words, they mean the same thing. So earwax is a normal secretion produced by the ear.

This is a simple diagram that can help to understand the divisions of the ear into outer, middle and inner ear.
ear1

So that part of the outer ear, extending from the pinna into the canal just before the eardrum, is where the Ear Wax is produced from.

Here is another image that can aid our understanding of where Ear Wax is located, and comes from, in the ear.

So that part of the outer ear, extending from the pinna into the canal just before the eardrum, is where the Ear Wax is produced from.

Here is another image that can aid our understanding of where Ear Wax is located, and comes from, in the ear.

So knowing that Ear Wax is a normal healthy secretion from the outer ear, the first myth of wax being bad or unhealthy is demystified. So what is the function of the Ear Wax? Or is it a useless secretion from the ear that only ends up being a needless source of worry? The natural function of the Ear Wax is to protect the ear; especially the eardrum and the internal ear from dust, damage and infections. The ear wax protects the skin of the ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also protects the ear from certain insects. Even when people go swimming, or mistakenly have water poured in their ears in a shower, Ear Wax protects the ear from irritation. And if you use bowl and bucket to have your bath and water mistakenly pours in, ear wax helps to prevent infection from setting in.

When you consider the numerous functions & benefits, you understand how it is only ignorance that makes us want to remove our ear wax. Ear Wax is closer to the outer ear than to the ear drum, so ideally it never disturbs it. And because of its proximity to the exterior, rather than to the inner ear, ear wax NATURALLY finds its way out of the ear ON ITS OWN. In other words, the ear does NOT need you to clean it of excess ear wax. Ear wax in itself is beneficial to your ears, except if excess and even in the rare situation of excess ear wax, the body naturally pushes out the excess wax, and it gets washed off when you bathe.

So the obsession of “cleaning the ear” always, using car keys, pen covers, broomstick, Q-Tips, cotton buds, hair clips etc is UNNECESSARY. It may interest you to know that even the process of chewing food is another way the body NATURALLY gets rid of excess wax on its own. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology (Ear Surgeons) out rightly discourages ear wax removal, except it causes health issues. Medical research has found that cotton buds and Q-Tips only remove a small top layer of ear wax, and push the rest further into the ear. Hence, because the poking/picking of the ear is consistent, the person ends up pushing down huge earwax that starts affecting the eardrum. The person ends up over time with partial deafness, earache, ringing in the ears, itching…all from an obsession with using cotton buds. And that is even some of the likely hazardous complication that prolonged obsessive repeated use of things like cotton buds can cause. Some suffer immediate consequences.

People perforate their eardrums from using car keys, hair clips & broomsticks to “clean their ear”. This is no joke. People have had seizures & meningitis from infections introduced into their ears that eventually spread to the brain. I know there is the orgasmic feeling one gets from using cotton buds (or anything else) to “clean” the ear but this habit is unhelpful. The ear is self-cleansing. It cleans itself by itself without any help from you. That is how the human body was designed and made to work. Ideally the ear needs no cleaning, but if there are any health issues maybe discomfort, ringing, partial deafness, you may clean the ear. The medically advisable way to clean your ears if you have to, is to put drops of Olive Oil (or Hydrogen Peroxide or Cerumol) in the ear.

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