Anyway, the family lore is that when Dr. Luk pulled this HU-U-U-UGE glob of nasty ear wax out, my husband apparently wretched and turned his head toward the corner to avoid interrupting the doctor. He thought he was going to hurl, after all, "I swear, it looked like a gross, dead, brown mouse" at which point, I was about to hurl...TMI.
Our son explained that he now goes to the ENT once a year to make sure he's not "packing". Ba-da boom...
- Despite logic, there's no relationship between the amount of ear wax a kid has and middle ear infections (yay!). It's the middle ear infections (otitis media that leads to language processing disorders and phonemic problems. Brain stem malfunctions lead to central auditory processing disorders.)
- Ear wax is a natural lubricant.
- The kind and amount of ear wax you have is related to heredity and genetics.
- Ear wax accumulation is not related to hygiene.
- Excessive ear wax accumulation is seen more frequently in countries with a hot, humid climate.
- There are two types of ear wax related to genetics: the wet and the dry types. The wet type is more common and occurs in those who are African American and European. It's moist and ranges from honey brown to dark brown in color whereas the dry type occurs in Native Americans and Asians. It's gray and flaky.
- The dry type is used by anthropologists to track human migratory patterns such as those of the Inuit.
- The ears make "just the right amount" of wax. You don't have to do anything.
- Ear wax is made in the ear canal in the area between the side of the head and the fleshy part of the ear.
- Its function is to protect the ear drum and ear canal and waterproofs the lining and prevents infection.
- Ear wax traps dirt and dust and keeps them away from the inner structures and irritating the ear drum.
- After the wax is produced, it makes its way out and falls out usually during bathing.
Look at the anatomical drawing of the inside of an ear (above). Do those structures look hardy enough to withstand you reaming them with a Q-Tip? No. How do I know this? People misuse them. An estimated 34 kids every day to go the ER because of Q-Tip mishaps.
Kris Janata, M.D., an otolaryngologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He evaluated the reports of Q-Tip-related ear injuries from hospitals across the nation between 1990 and 2010, 263,000 patients under the age of 18 for for ear blockage, pain and bleeding.
Fully 77% of the injuries were self-inflicted by children and 16% of the incidences were committed by parents and siblings. The data indicated that 73% of the injuries occurred during ear cleaning and the others happened while kids were playing with swabs or falling down while the swab was positioned in their ears (ouchie!).
Two-third of the patients were under 8 and 40% were younger than three. Most patients, 99%, were treated and released, but some of the injuries had the potential to cause dizziness, problems with balance, permanent hearing loss and facial nerve paralysis.
Didn't you always wonder just how those statistics were collected? Who knew there was such a thing as the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System?
If we just followed the warning on the Q-Tip box:
Do not insert swab into ear canal.
Entering the ear canal could cause injury.
If used to clean ear, stroke swab gently around the outer surface of the ear only.
Keep out of reach at children.
Then again, we don't seem to heed the warnings on the packs of cigarettes, do we?
Use your common sense. You really don't want to be in the ER with your kid, do you?
Do the best you can. TTFN,
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