This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Hardening of the cerumen, or ear-wax, is a not very infrequent cause of deafness, and is by no means so harmless a condition as is generally supposed. In many cases the hardening is not the primary disease, but is due to chronic inflammation of the middle ear. The most prominent symptoms of this condition are, impairment of hearing, roaring and pain in the ears. The practice of probing the ear for the purpose of ascertaining whether it contains hardened ear-wax is a very hazardous one, as it may excite inflammation of the canal of the ear, or even rupture the drum. Cleaning the ears with the end of a towel, or with a bit of sponge attached to a handle, is a bad practice, as the wax is crowded in. The wax sometimes becomes almost as hard as stone.
Hardened wax may be readily removed, in most cases, by the ear douche with warm, or hot water. In case the wax is very hard, it may be necessary to use quite strong soap-suds, or to place in the ear a few drops of a strong solution of bi-carbonate of soda. A good plan in these cases is to drop into the ear while the head is bent over, a small lump of bi-carbonate of soda, which can be easily pressed down in contact with the wax, after which a few drops of water should be added. Persons subject to hardening of the ear-wax should syringe the ears thoroughly every six or eight weeks. The proper treatment for other foreign bodies in the ear has been given elsewhere.