Myths about Wax and Ear Cleaning

Posted by Ajay Jain on Wed, Aug 4, 2010  
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Why people keep scratching Ear?

  1. Why People keep scratching ears? 


Most of the my outdoor patients complain of itiching in the ear. On examination, I find often no abnormality in ear except for broken hairs, bald canal skin or scratch marks. The problem is really not in the ear but in the mind. the indian mindset is set from childhood that ear is a dustbean full of dirt and it should be cleaned regulary. but the truth is else. There are two Myths

  1. That the ear contains dirty substance or Wax
  2. So Ear should be cleaned regulary.

I tell you the Wax is natural gift of the God to man. its a substance secreted by modified sweat glands and it contains lysozymes which inhibit the growth of bacteria. it's being a sticky substance catches all dust, foreign particles etc and does not let go towards the eardrum. it also acts as a physical barrier.

But then still wax become the center of all ear problems why?

Most of physician, paediatrician or Non ENT medical Personnel have just three things to blame for all ENT Problems these are WAX, TONSIL and SINUS.

Sometimes wax becomes dry or hard then it may cause discomfort but if you put some wax softening drops, then most of the people even will not have this discomfort. and rarely Wax is the cause of ear problems unless water enters into ears when it swells up or catches fungal infection.

Ear has a natural mechanism of cleaning the wax in form of migratory epithelium and hair which push the wax out.

Problem comes when people starts using earbuds thinking by promotional advts that these are the right instruments for cleaning ear. but they are not Why?

  1. Can you take out icecream from icecream pot with an instrument like earbud. NO, infact you require scoop. but even with scoop would you like to take out icecream with your eyes closed. Never, but most of people do this to ear while cleaning the ear. their this very act injurs the skin and delicate hairs resulting in bruises, infection, eczematous skin, stenosed ear canal and much more
  2. It's a PSYCHOLOGICAL problem. a kind of obsessive compulsive disorder. Ear is a special sense organ. any subthreshold stimulus here is perceived as pleasant to brain and brain signals hand to scratch ear again. this is vicious cycle and in this process Ear gets the injury.
  3. Ear share it's nerve supply with Tonsil, Teeth, Throat, Larynx and Stomach. A simple acidity can cause low grade itching in ear. So Why should you scratch the ear when gulping few antacids can solve your problem.

The best way to solve your problem is first to consult a ENT specialist to rule out other causes of itching and then if this is the cause (indeed this is the cause in most of the cases), forget the ear.

I quote like this

IF YOU FORGET THE EAR, THE EAR PROBLEMS WILL FOGET YOU :-)

Dr. Ajay Jain, MS (PGI, Chandigarh), DNB

Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery

 

 

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