The Benefits of Ear Cleaning and Safely Removing Ear Wax
People resort to many different ear cleaning techniques at home; they might use cotton swabs, toothpicks, toilet paper, and even their fingers to clean out the canal. Not only are these methods improper and, at times, unsanitary, but more than anything, they are unsafe. Therefore, it is often necessary to learn how to clean your ears correctly.
There is no shame in failing to know the appropriate way to clean your ears at any age. People learn at different stages. Still, if you use cotton swaps, picks, or other objects and insert them into the ear canal, you risk severe damage to your inner ear and hearing.
Importance of Cleaning Your Ears
In a perfect world, the ears would not require cleaning. The human body is made in a way that the ears essentially clean themselves. Still, people tend to over-clean their ears because of the substance cerumen or earwax.
Earwax is a natural lubricant and antibacterial substance, acting as a filter for the inner ear and preventing dirt, dust, and other debris from settling too far into the ear. The body forms earwax in the outer section of the ear canal, and as you chew and move your jaw, old cerumen moves to the outer ear, where it dries and falls out.
The reason people might end up with an earwax buildup deep in the ear is by using unsafe and ineffective cleaning methods. When cleaning your ears, you only need to focus on the visible areas. If you do not have cerumen impaction, you can clean your outer ears once or twice a week to help soften and remove old wax.
How To Properly Remove Ear Wax
Many people take their hearing for granted and do not believe the ears can be damaged easily, which gives them the confidence to use pointy objects to unclog wax buildups. Unfortunately, despite the errant confidence, the inner ear is fragile, and attempting unhealthy and unsafe methods can injure the eardrums and possibly cause permanent hearing loss. The safest options and best ways to clean ears include:
- Ear cleaning drops
- Bulb syringe
- Mineral or olive oil
Ear cleaning drops are over-the-counter treatment options that typically work well. If choosing cleaning drops, select options with hydrogen peroxide or other peroxides. The ingredient, peroxide, does a decent job of helping to break up the earwax. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
If the wax buildup is too significant, drops might be ineffective. You may need to flush the ears using a bulb syringe. You should fill the syringe with warm water, and with the syringe set against the ear opening, gently squeeze the bulb and flood the ear. With any luck, the warm water will wash out some of the wax. Do not use this method if you have a hole in your eardrum or have ever had eardrum surgery.
Finally, some people explain that using mineral or olive oil before a professional cleaning can help the removal process. Most professional services will use mineral oil, so it is not always necessary to attempt using oils at home.
Common Ear Wax Removal Methods To Avoid
Your ears are like self-cleaning appliances, meaning they do not need cleaning often, especially when following appropriate ear wax removal methods. Unfortunately, people favor unsafe techniques. If you must clean your ears at home, never use cotton swabs or earwax removal candles.
Many people use cotton swabs or Q-tips. What might surprise you is the label on the packing for these products warns against inserting the swabs into your ears. Cotton swabs only push the wax deeper into the canal, increasing the risk of impaction and blockage. Additionally, if the swab is inserted too far, you risk rupturing your eardrum or injuring the canal and causing infection.
While you might see several viral videos, earwax removal candles are ineffective and dangerous. The most significant risks associated with the candles are burns.
Should You See an Audiologist for Ear Cleaning
Using a damp washcloth on the outer ear is usually enough to maintain a clean and healthy ear. However, if you have been using ineffective techniques for years or believe you have an earwax buildup, you will benefit from a professional cleaning.
You should see an audiologist for an ear cleaning. Audiologists have professional medical devices for proper and effective ear cleaning. The tools they use will not damage the nerves, cells, or structure of the ear. If you are unsure if a professional cleaning is necessary, consider these common signs to determine if a visit is needed:
- Excess earwax
- Ringing ears (tinnitus)
- Swimmer’s ear
- Muffled sounds
- Smelly earwax
Your ears are fragile and sensitive. Avoid using improper cleaning techniques on your ears. Contact Happy Ears for more information and assistance if you feel a professional cleaning is essential.