Keeping your ears clean and free of wax buildup is essential for hearing ability as well as comfort. Excessive accumulation of wax in the ear can end up causing clogging in the canal resulting in hearing difficulties. So, how can you remove such clogs effectively and safely without damaging your ears?
What is the Purpose of Earwax?
People often think of earwax as dirty and gross and as something that needs to be removed immediately. However, without earwax, your ears would perpetually feel very dry and itchy. The ears are actually self-cleaning and the production of earwax is one way that is achieved. Earwax has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to help protect against infection. It also acts as a filter for the ear to prevent unwanted particles from entering the ear and causing damage.
How to Safely Remove Earwax
Since the ears are self-cleaning, they are generally capable of cleaning themselves without the need for extra care. However, this is not always the case. Some people just naturally produce more earwax than others, earwax accumulation can also occur due to existing health conditions or a contact stimulus.
Some techniques to expel excess earwax from the ears include:
- Warm water and a washcloth
- Saline solution
- Baby or mineral oil
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Bulb syringe
Warm Water & Wash Cloth
One of the safest methods to rid your ears of excess wax is to use a facecloth with warm water. This can be done in the shower for added convenience by tilting your head to the side and allowing a bit of water into the ear canal. Then tilt your head to the other side to let the water run out. Do not spray the showerhead directly into your ear, and a washcloth can be used on the outer ear to help coax the wax out.
Salinity can be used to help loosen the earwax and making your own saline solution is quick and easy. Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a half cup of warm water. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and then use it to drip the mixture into your ear. After a few minutes, tilt your head to release the water and repeat the process for the other ear.
Baby or Mineral Oil
An oil softener can be used to help lubricate the ear and soften the earwax for easier removal. The oil is best delivered with an ear dropper and you can warm the oil up a bit first by placing the dropper in warm water. Place three or four drops in the ear and wait a few minutes before doing the other ear. Any excess oil can be removed from the outer ear with a washcloth or cotton ball.
Another solution that can be used to remove earwax is hydrogen peroxide. It is recommended to use the brown bottle 3% variety. This can also be mixed 50-50 with warm water if you want to weaken it a bit first. The same technique applies using an ear dropper or cotton ball.
If the recommended solutions alone are not getting the job done, flushing the ear with a bulb syringe can sometimes do the trick. Fill the syringe with warm water and carefully squeeze the bulb while holding the syringe over the ear canal. This should be done gently and can help break up the wax.
Earwax Removal Techniques to Avoid
As a general rule, it is recommended not to put pointy objects in the ear at any time to avoid damaging the ear. For this reason, cotton swabs and ear candles are among earwax removal methods to avoid.
Using a cotton swab will typically only serve to push the wax deeper in the ear canal, making the problem worse not better. It can also result in more severe blockages and can even rupture the eardrum if pushed too far.
These hollow candles are meant to be placed inside the ear and then lit at the other to draw the wax out. Studies show this method is not effective and even dangerous and should never be used to remove earwax. These candles can cause burns and may even pierce the inner ear.
If the suggested safe methods are not removing blockages or excess wax in your ears, consult a hearing health professional for a safe and effective solution.