Earwax, scientifically known as cerumen, serves multiple protective roles, including trapping dust and debris, acting as a moisture barrier, and eliminating microorganisms that enter the ear canal.
It is generally advised not to attempt removing earwax by inserting objects like cotton swabs, paper clips, or hairpins into the ears. Impaction can occur when the wax accumulates or hardens, making it difficult for the ear canal to expel naturally.
In cases of impacted earwax, saline irrigations – a salt-water flush of the ear canal – or direct removal under an operating microscope are common methods of treatment. After complete removal of earwax, a maintenance routine of at-home ear irrigations may be necessary.
Middle ear infections occur due to bacterial or viral infections in the middle ear and a blockage in the Eustachian tube – the tube connecting the middle ear to the back of the nose, responsible for draining fluid produced in the middle ear. Numerous factors can lead to this blockage, including allergies, excess saliva or mucus during teething, cold or sinus infections, enlarged or infected adenoids, or irritation from tobacco smoke. Children and infants are more susceptible to middle ear infections as their Eustachian tubes can be easily obstructed, but adults can also experience them. For children ages 2 or older and healthy adults with mild symptoms, a wait-and-see approach for the initial 48 to 72 hours is often advised before deciding on treatment.
For children ages 2 or older and adults who are otherwise healthy with only mild symptoms, a wait-and-see approach for the first 48 to 72 hours is often recommended when deciding to seek treatment.
Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is commonly caused by water or moisture remaining in the ear canal after swimming. In the short term, this moisture creates a favorable environment for bacteria to grow, leading to acute swimmer’s ear. Cuts or scratches in the ear canal can also facilitate bacterial growth. These cuts are often a result of using cotton swabs or hairpins, scratching the ear canal with a fingernail, or inserting objects like hearing aids or earphones into the ears. On the other hand, chronic or persistent otitis externa is frequently caused by fungal infections. If you suspect swimmer’s ear, it is important to consult your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
Inner ear infections are not as common and are relatively rare compared to other types of infections. If you have an inner ear infection, you may experience hearing loss and dizziness. If you are encountering symptoms unrelated to any other illness, it is advisable to schedule an appointment at Agape Family Medical Center as soon as possible.