Sunday, June 18, 2006

Y'all can't get enough wax

I know, I know. It's been forever since I posted. Bad me.

Here's an all-too-common problem:

Q: Hi there. Ok, cracking up after googling "Ear wax medication" and reading your I just did like 4 ear candles on my poor husbands ear (which seemed to work, collecting a ton of wax & sand each time) but yet didn't remove the wax that we can see when we look in his ear.

Here is our issue - hope you can advise. My husband's ear (either from surfing or whatever) has a lot of hardened ear wax build up that can be seen with the naked eye. I can even send you a picture if you so desire. There is a hole about the size of a typed uppercase letter "O" that he has to hear out of in both ears. Frankly, I am tired of repeating myself! The wax is a very pale yellow and is pretty hard - it itches and all that fun stuff.

Are our only options to see an ENT? OR is there some sort of OTC meds that I can buy that will soften the wax and allow us to remove it with a q-tip? Trying to avoid paid medical intervention here, but we will do what it takes to get the man to hear again.

A: When it gets that packed, the best, safest, most reliable technique is removal by an ENT. If that's not an option (for financial reasons), you could try pre-treating with a few drops of warm oil (olive oil, for example), then, the next day, try using one of the over the counter wax removal kits. Your pharmacist can show you what I'm talking about. Your husband will be trying to flush the ears clear. I have to warn you, though, when it gets as bad as you describe, these do-it-yourself methods can make matters worse. If he fails to get the wax out, the wax will form a sludge which will take his hearing from bad to much worse. Not only that, but the plugged sensation is maddening.

Q-tips are a bad idea in this setting because he WILL push the wax deeper, causing pain and almost certain plugging. Don't do it.



At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have had 5 polypectomies, including bi-lateral sinus surgery. I hated life since I was 15, now 44 years old. I share the ASA allergies, and suffer from re-occurring sinus infections. After all the misery, I found the combination of drugs that changed my life. I've used Prednisone in the past and all the nasal steroid sprays with no results, but the combination of daily Zyrtec + Singulair has eliminated my misery. I've been "allergy attack" free and my polyps stopped growing and I believe they're slowly shrinking on their own. I want to help others somehow to pass this on. Can you help?

Gus Maio

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Jeri-Ann said...

My mom used a few drops of very warm water every 10 minutes, some patience (1 hour) and with an wax scraper, gently popped out the ear wax that was hiding inside my cousin's ear for 3 years.

Please, DO NOT try to scrap out hard, compacted ear wax with an ear wax scraper. It will HURT a LOT and it will BLEED.

ALWAYS test by scraping a little bit to see if it hurts. If it does, use warm-water drops to soften the wax and keep repeating until the wax becomes soft but not mushy (mushy = too much water = water-logged). Tnen gently scrap.

Just a thought: For extreme compacted case, a few drops of warm water in the affected ear at night and then sealed off with a soft foam ear plug overnight may help soften the wax for the next morning.

Also, DON'T forget to STERILIZE the ear wax scraper before and after usage (I use hydrogen peroxide). I use boiled, filtered WARM water to soften hard, compacted ear wax (always test the water to see if it has cooled enough on the inside of your elbow).

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

Gus, you're welcome to post here, but you need to realize there's no single formula that works for everyone. What works for you may fail for others. If that weren't the case, we would soon have no need for doctors -- a nurse or nurse practitioner could look things up in a handbook and never be wrong.

Jeri-Ann, I don't know where to begin. Let's just say that, as with nasal polyps, there's no single technique that works for all wax. I'm not sure what an ear wax scraper is, but any 'blind' technique carries with it risk of injury.

Thanks for writing in, folks.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger excelnovice said...

i have a method which works for me:

1. get some sterile saline solution and a needleless syringe (10cc) from the pharmacy

2. warm the solution by adding and mixing with a bit of warm water

3. fill up needleless syringe with the solution and you flush your ear repeatedly by spraying the solution into the ear and refilling with fresh saline solution. you will have to allow the water to drain out.

4. after some flushing i use the emptied needleless syringe to suck out the water from your ear. you will see all the loosened wax trapped inside the syringe. pull once on the handle quickly to suck, and turn the syringe away and push quickly to push out the yuck. repeat until you feel your ear is clean and you can hear well.


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