Earwax, also known by the medical term cerumen. It is a yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It protects the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Earwax consists of shed skin cells, hair, and the secretions of the ceruminous and sebaceous glands of the outside ear canal. Major components of earwax are long chain fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated, alcohols, squalene and cholesterol. Excess or compacted cerumen can press against the eardrum or block the outside ear canal or hearing aids, potentially causing hearing loss. Excessive earwax may impede the passage of sound in the ear canal, causing conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids may be associated with increased earwax impaction. It is also estimated to be the cause of 60–80% of hearing aid faults. Ear pain is the predominant complaint and the only symptom directly related to the severity of acute external otitis. Unlike other forms of ear infections, the pain of acute external otitis is worsened when the outer ear is touched or pulled gently. Pushing the tragus, the tablike portion of the auricle that projects out just in front of the ear canal opening, also typically causes pain in this condition as to be diagnostic of external otitis on physical examination. Patients may also experience ear discharge and itchiness. When enough swelling and discharge in the ear canal is present to block the opening, external otitis may cause temporary conductive hearing loss. Because the symptoms of external otitis lead many people to attempt to clean out the ear canal (or scratch it) with slim implements, self-cleaning attempts generally lead to additional traumas of the injured skin, so rapid worsening of the condition often occurs.
The prevalence of chronic otitis media was 0.94%. Impacted wax was found in 12.3% of the students. The prevalence of abnormalities (excluding wax) in the otoscopy examination was 10.5%. It was found that 8.3% of students had a past history of otitis and 7.7% had a past history of otorrhea. These two special groups presented statistically significant associations with chronic otitis media, hearing loss and otolaryngological surgeries (when compared with the other school children). Parents and school children seemed significantly able to identify a special group of children with past history of otitis during childhood. This was a descriptive sectional population study held from January to October of 2009. We randomly selected 349 households with 1,050 individuals who with ages ranging between 4 days and 95 years. The data collection instruments were: WHO structured questionnaire, ENT examination and laboratory tests. Chi-square and Poisson regression models were used for analyses. This was a cross-sectional study comparing 177 participants in two groups: 82 sound technicians and 95 controls (non-sound technicians). A questionnaire on music listening habits and associated complaints was applied, and data were gathered regarding the professionals' numbers of working hours per day and both groups' hearing complaint and presence of tinnitus. The participants' ear canals were visually inspected using an otoscope. Hearing assessments were performed (tonal and speech audiometry) using a portable digital AD 229 E audiometer funded by FAPESP. There was no statistically significant difference between the sound technicians and controls regarding age and gender. Thus, the study sample was homogenous and would be unlikely to lead to bias in the results. A statistically significant difference in hearing loss was observed between the groups: 50% among the sound technicians and 10.5% among the controls. The difference could be addressed to high sound levels.
Movement of the jaw helps the ears' natural cleaning process. The American Academy of Otolaryngology discourages earwax removal unless excess earwax is causing health problems. While a number of methods of earwax removal are effective, their comparative merits have not been determined. A number of softeners are effective; however, if this is not sufficient, the most common method of cerumen removal is syringing with warm water. A curette method is more likely to be used by otolaryngologists when the ear canal is partially occluded and the material is not adhering to the skin of the ear canal. Cotton swabs, on the other hand, push most of the earwax farther into the ear canal and remove only a small portion of the top layer of wax that happens to adhere to the fibres of the swab. The other treatment methods are: Softeners, Ear irrigation, Curette and cotton swabs, Ear candles and vacuuming, Complications of removal. Manual removal is done by using softeners called as cerumenolysis. Commercial or common cerumenolytics include: Oil, Urea hydrogen peroxide (6.5%) and glycerine, e.g. Exterol, Otex, Sodium bicarbonate solution or sodium bicarbonate B.P.C. (sodium bicarbonate and glycerine), Cerumol (arachis oil, turpentine and dichlorobenzene), Cerumenex (triethanolamine, polypeptides and oleate-condensate), An active ingredient and an emulsifying agent Docusate found in laxatives. A cerumenolyte should be used 2–3 times daily for 3–5 days prior to the cerumen extraction. Ear candling, ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy is an alternative medicine practice done to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical Researchers confirmed that it is both dangerous and ineffective.