Most people feel the need to remove ear wax or cerumen, which is the mixture of secretion, hair and dead skin. But new guidelines released by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation state that, as long as the ears are functioning properly, people should leave ear wax in its place.
Highlights from the report include:
- Overall, ear wax is beneficial and self-cleaning.
- Each year, 12 million people in the United States seek medical care for impacted ear wax.
- Ears should only be cleaned by a professional using wax-dissolving agents such as water and saline, or though manual removal or irrigation. When individuals try removing ear wax themselves, they often end up pushing the wax further into the ear.
- Avoid the use of cotton-tipped swabs, oral jet irrigators and ear candling (using cone-shaped candles to draw out the wax).
- Individuals who wear hearing aids should have their ears cleaned once or twice a year by a healthcare professional. This process prevents wax buildup that can cause feedback from the hearing aid or damage the device.