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Don't turn deaf ear to safe ear cleaning

Published On: Oct 24 2011 02:47:38 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 12 2011 10:46:46 AM CDT

(NewsUSA) - It's automatic -- you finish your shower and reach for a pack of cotton-tipped swabs. After all, if you don't clean out your ears, wax will build up and give you an infection, right?

Actually, your body produces cerumen, or earwax, for a reason. Earwax is sticky, allowing it to trap dust, dirt, pollen, insects or anything else that might otherwise enter the ear canal. Without it, our ear drums would be left vulnerable to foreign particles that could cause infections.

That said, our bodies don't always know when to stop producing wax. When earwax builds up, it can interfere with the ear drum's ability to conduct sound. Some people may develop hard earwax, which can lead to pain. Likewise, many doctors recommend that those with hearing aids have their ears cleaned, as excessive earwax can reduce hearing aids' effectiveness.

But cleaning your ears doesn't mean grabbing a cotton-tipped swab. In fact, sticking objects like swabs or bobby pins into the ear canal can lead to bigger problems. Cotton-tipped swabs can impact earwax or push it onto the eardrum.

One company has produced an ear-cleaning kit that is also safe for the eardrum. Mack's ProRinse Earwax Removal Kit (www.macksearplugs.com) consists of FDA-approved earwax-removal drops, AquaBlock Earplugs, steady-flow syringe with tri-stream rinse tip and an ear wash rinse tub.

The silicone earplugs hold in the drops, giving them ample time to break up and soften earwax. The tri-stream rinse tip directs water toward the walls of the ear canal. Pressure cannot build up while you rinse earwax out of your ear, and the tip is shaped to reduce the risk of over-insertion.

In a study conducted by the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the kit was found to be effective and safe in removing earwax from children's ears. Better yet, the kids tolerated the process, and their hearing improved afterward.

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