Taking care of your ears is incredibly important to ensure you can hear properly and to avoid infection. Earwax plays an intrinsic part in ear care. It is healthy in normal amounts as it acts as a self-cleaning agent, lubricating and providing antibacterial properties. But taking care of your ear wax should be part of your weekly health routine. If you don’t know where to start, the points below will help you maintain optimal care.
When to Clean?
Even though the ear canal is self-cleaning, excessive ear wax can be annoying. Over time, uncleaned ear wax can cause earaches, partial hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), itching, or excess discharge. An excess of ear wax can also increase the presence of bacteria resulting in ear infections. When there is too much wax, you need to ensure that you clean out your ears.
How to Clean?
With a Cloth
While most people would assume you should clean your ears with cotton swabs, this actually can cause more damage than good. Using a cotton bud can push the wax further back in the ear, resulting in wax blockage on the ear drum. You could also potentially rupture your ear drum if you are not careful. You should always avoid inserting anything into the ear. Your ear wax acts to catch dirt and grime, and the hairs push it out from the ear, so you should simply use a cloth to wash the external ear instead.
You can also use treatments that act to soften the wax. Pharmacies carry detergent drops, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that can help with the removal of the excess wax. Heated mineral oils can also be used to soften and remove the wax. Your physician can also recommend ear drops that can help with the build up.
Your physician can perform ear syringing, or you can purchase a kit from the pharmacy. Water is simply squirted from a syringe into your ear, which will loosen up larger bits of the wax. Downsides to this method are the potential for effects to the inner ear resulting in nausea. Syringing can be dangerous for people with specific health conditions, such as diabetes, problems with the ear drum or tube,and eczema of the ear. Always speak with your physician or audiologist before any action beyond cleaning the outer ear with a cloth.
In more severe cases, your ear doctor or otolaryngologist can use suction from a vacuum or instruments to help remove a buildup of ear wax.
While never recommended, some people use ear candles. This involves inserting one end of a hollow tapered cone made of cloth soaked in beeswax or paraffin into the ear and igniting the opposite side of the cone, resulting in ear wax being removed. All medical specialists do not condone the use of ear candles reporting them to be very dangerous with numerous reports on hair fires, temporary hearing loss, and perforation.
Taking care of your ear wax is a very important part of your overall health.
Understanding how to remove your ear wax in a safe manner will help you maintain healthy ears and optimal hearing ability on a daily basis. For other recommendations, please speak with your Ottawa audiologist at Hear Fine.