Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hearing Specialist Craft First Professional Guidelines For Earwax

Date:
August 31, 2008
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
The age-old advice to routinely clean out earwax is discouraged under the first published guidelines from health care professionals about removing wax from the ear.

Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology -- head and neck surgery, helped develop new national guidelines regarding the removal of wax from the ear.
Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

The age-old advice to routinely clean out earwax is discouraged under the first published guidelines from health care professionals about removing wax from the ear.

“Unfortunately, many people feel the need to manually remove earwax, called cerumen, which serves an important protective function for the ear,” said the guidelines’ lead author, Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology — head and neck surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Cotton swabs and some other home remedies can push cerumen further into the canal, potentially foiling the natural removal process and instead cause build-up, known as impaction.”

The guidelines recommend professionals use wax-dissolving agents, irrigation or ear syringing, or manually remove it with a suction device or other specialty instrument under supervised care to avoid damaging the ear or further impaction. The guidelines warn against using cotton-tipped swabs, and the home use of oral jet irrigators.

In addition, people with hearing aids should be checked for impaction during regular check-ups because cerumen can cause feedback, reduced sound intensity or damage the hearing aid, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines were created with input from family practitioners, pediatricians, internists, nurses, audiologists and emergency room doctors and have been endorsed by the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

There are no proven methods for avoiding impaction, according to the analysis, so when should you seek out a professional?

“When cerumen builds to the point of causing symptoms such as pain, ringing, itching or hearing problems, it’s a sign you should see a physician,” said Dr. Roland, who also serves as chief of pediatric otology at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

The problem affects one in 10 children, one in 20 adults, and greater than one-third of the elderly and cognitively impaired, according to the academy. About 12 million people annually seek treatment for impacted or excessive cerumen, resulting in nearly 8 million cerumen removal procedures by health care professionals.

“Earwax” is not actually wax, but a water-soluble mixture of secretions produced in the outer third of the ear canal, along with hair and dead skin.

The mixture serves a critical protective function for the ear and shouldn’t be removed unless it’s causing symptoms or interfering with assessments of the ear, said Dr. Roland, who heads to Clinical Center for Auditory, Vestibular and Facial Nerve Disorders at UT Southwestern.

“The complications from cerumen impaction can be painful and include infections and hearing loss,” Dr. Roland said. “It is hoped that these guidelines will give clinicians the tools they need to spot an issue early and avoid serious outcomes.”

The guidelines appear in a supplement to the September issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. They will also be presented at the academy’s September meeting in Chicago.

The new guidelines are based on extensive reviews of scientific studies for a wide range of health care professionals from family doctors and pediatricians, to ear, nose and throat specialists (otolaryngologists).

Other conclusions and recommendations include:

  • Individuals at high risk for cerumen impaction, such as those who wear hearing aids, should consider seeing a clinician every six to 12 months for routine cleaning;
  • Wax dissolving agents are effective, but evidence is lacking regarding the superiority of any particular agent;
  • Irrigation or ear syringing is most effective when a wax-dissolving agent is instilled 15 to 30 minutes before treatment;
  • Ear candling, an alternative to traditional methods of ear wax removal, doesn’t work, is potentially dangerous and is condemned by the Food and Drug Administration; and
  • Manual removal with special instruments under medical supervision is a final option and is preferred for patients with narrow ear canals, eardrum perforation or tube, or immune deficiency.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Roland et al. Clinical practice guideline: Cerumen impaction. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 2008; 139 (3): S1 DOI: 10.1016/j.otohns.2008.06.026

Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Hearing Specialist Craft First Professional Guidelines For Earwax." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080829091308.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2008, August 31). Hearing Specialist Craft First Professional Guidelines For Earwax. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080829091308.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Hearing Specialist Craft First Professional Guidelines For Earwax." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080829091308.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins