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Ask Dr. Gott 8/7
Earwax may not be earwax at all
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have a problem with dried earwax in my outer ears, especially when it settles in the small crevices and is painful to remove. I'm a 77-year-old female who has always had lots of earwax, but it used to be soft and could be removed easily. How does the wax flow out when it is dry and brittle? Is there anything that can help?
    DEAR READER: Earwax is secreted by glands in the skin that lines the canals of the ears. Its purpose is to trap dirt and slow the growth of bacteria. Why some people seem to produce more wax than others is unknown. Blockages can occur when people attempt to clean their ears themselves, most often with the aid of swabs. Generally, this process simply pushes wax into the ear canal and against the drum, causing pain, fullness and hearing loss. The practice should never be done.
    There are safe, practical solutions for removal. You can try using mineral oil, baby oil, Debrox or Murine Ear Drops, which soften the wax, allowing a bulb syringe filled with warm water to flush the wax out. This method is similar to that used by physicians and shouldn't harm the eardrum. There are also products that can be used every four to eight weeks as a preventive.
    A much safer and recommended method is to make an appointment with your physician. While this might appear to be unnecessary, your physician can examine the outer ear and remove any wax with a small instrument or flush it away. He or she can also determine whether the debris you claim is painful to remove is truly wax. There are several ear conditions that can cause dried skin build-up that resembles wax. This is a more likely cause of your ear problem and may require prescription creams.
    Your hearing is extremely important, so don't insert any instruments into the ear canal yourself. Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Ear Infections and Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I had been bothered with knee pain for two weeks. While I know that's not a long time for some people, I'd never had the problem before, so two weeks felt like an eternity. I thought I might have arthritis or simply wrenched my knee without remembering it.
    Because I really don't like taking any drugs, a friend gave me cooling Castiva to rub on the knee. I tried it, and the pain disappeared a short while later. After only one treatment, the pain was gone. I don't know if all topical salves work in the same manner, but I had to share my experience with you so others might be helped.
    DEAR READER: While all products don't work for all people, I'm glad you had favorable results with Castiva. Many of my readers have tried it and found it be beneficial. Like you, many of them also did not like taking medication.
    Be sure to see your physician if the pain returns or worsens.
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