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Start > Nurses > Resource centre > Articles > Ears Part 1

Wax in the ears is possibly the most common cause of a gradual loss of hearing but it is also a protective excretion from the lining of the ears. Patients who work in dusty jobs certainly get trouble more often. This may be partly due to particles piling up in the ear passages, but it is also because the secretion of wax actually collects dust particles.

Wax can partly block the ear channels so that soundwaves are limited in the effect, but the delicate, complicated mechanism of the middle ear can also seize up if wax gets into the works. This mechanism includes three very tiny bones which must be able to move very freely if their owner is to hear properly.

Wax is sometimes pushed on to these bones by an over-enthusiastic patient using various tools to try to get the wax out. I have even heard a patient say he uses a toothpick to clean his ears. This is dangerous and can damage the walls of the passages and allow infection to get in, as well as push the wax further along. If you think your trouble is wax go to the doctor and he or she will be able to syringe the wax out of the ear safely.

Teacher: Michael
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.


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