Docs say love your earwax

ear exam Are you guilty of digging at your ears with cotton swabs or other objects? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans can’t resist the urge to remove earwax despite doctors’ advice to leave it in place. And while this advice isn’t new, the American Academy of Otolaryngology recently updated its evidence-based guidelines, offering primary care providers additional guidance on how to assess and treat patients with impacted ear wax.

Cerumen, aka earwax, is nature’s way of keeping the ear canal clean, removing dead cells and debris. Talking or chewing moves the wax out, helping hearing. Inserting something into the ear reverses this process, pushing the wax back into the ear. It’s dangerous, too. It can lead to hearing loss, a painful infection or an injured eardrum that requires surgery to repair. Impacted wax should always be removed by a doctor.

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, ear pain, itching, a feeling of fullness, odor, drainage or ringing in your ears, get checked by your doctor or ask for a referral to an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) for a more in-depth ear exam.