April 01, 2016

Putting Someone Else's Earwax Into the Ear - The Earwax Transplant!

There may be a certain "ick" factor with the idea of putting earwax from one ear into another to treat chronic ear diseases, but certainly it's not as bad as stool transplants to treat chronic colitis conditions.

The idea of earwax and stool transplants comes out of the theory that certain chronic diseases are due to the absence of "good" bacteria resulting in over-colonization of "bad" bacteria. If true, the theory goes that health may be restored to a chronically diseased ear by transplanting earwax from healthy ears.

This technique of earwax transplants was first described by Lloyd Storrs, MD in 1981 and was used to successfully treat chronic seborrheic dermatitis of the ear canal. Others have successfully treated chronic and/or recurrent fungal ear infections and otitis externa infections with this technique as well.

Per Dr. Storrs...
"The collected cerumen (taken from a healthy ear) is suspended in 50% glycerine and left for several weeks to sterilize. It is then strained through a fine filter having been heated so that its is workable. The material is dispensed to the patient in a small dropper bottle and the patient is instructed to place two drops in the external ear canal once a week." [link]
Although earwax can be taken from a complete stranger's ear... normally earwax that is transplanted is taken from the opposite (and hopefully healthy) ear in the same patient.

The other take-home message is that earwax is "good" for you and should not be vigorously removed. A totally clean ear may actually lead to chronic ear conditions! Of course, too much of it is not good as well due to hearing loss issues.

Management of the ear canal seborrhea with cerumen. Laryngoscope. 1981 Aug;91(8):1231-3.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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