Ear wax (Cerumen) is produced by glands present within the ear canal. It usually contains dead skin, oil and sweat. The primary function of ear wax is to protect the ear skin from infection and from water.
However, different people produce different quantities of ear wax. Too much of ear wax may often block the ear and cause deafness. It can also help bacteria to remain trapped inside the ear canal and cause further infections.
Ear wax can be classified into wet and dry wax. Wet wax can either be soft or hard. The hard wax may get stuck inside the ear. This condition is often called impacted ear wax. It is often quite difficult to remove.
Normally, people use several methods for ear wax removal. A variety of cotton tipped ear buds are available in the market. People also use pins and even their finger nails to remove wax from their ears. However, none of these methods of removing ear wax are recommended by doctors, as they may either push the wax deeper inside the ear canal, or they may cause injury to the ear drum by making a tear or a hole in it.
It is best to go to an ENT specialist to get your ears cleaned as they use special tools designed to help clean your ears without causing injury or harm.
Doctors place a metal speculum inside the ear and remove the wax using a probe or suction device. They may also use suction to suck the wax out. All this is done using a microscope and a bright light.
Another method of cleaning the ears is by using ear drops example otorex, waxolve etc.
A common procedure with several doctors is the use of syringes. They use jets of water to flush out the ear wax but it can be very unpleasant.
The best method of avoiding impacted ear wax is to prevent the ear wax from hardening. Prevention is often said to be better than cure.
One method is the use of baby oil or olive oil. Put a few drops of the oil into the ear. Lie for a few minutes with that ear up, and then turn the other way round and let the wax and oil drip onto a towel.
This should be avoided when you know or suspect that you have a perforated ear drum.