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.