Earwax (technical term Cerumen) is the key to a healthy ear.
Earwax collects dirt, debris and bacteria from entering the ear. It has lubrication properties to keep the ears from getting dry and itchy.
Earwax is an unpleasant obstacle to keeping your ears clean. Yes, there are right and wrong ways to clean your ears.
Your ears clean themselves…mostly
Earwax will work its way out of the ears naturally through normal jaw motions, those being chewing and talking. Most people rarely or never have to clean their ears above and beyond normal bathing. The right way to clean your ears is to simply wipe away excess water and any possible wax from your outer ear with a towel or washcloth.
Don’t use cotton swabs
The WRONG way to clean inside your ears is with a cotton swab. Using a swab can push the wax deeper into the ear which can cause an impaction and prevent the eardrum from vibrating properly. Impaction can lead to bigger problems. Some cotton swab products warn on the package against inserting into the ear canal. Heed this warning!
Earwax buildup happens
Ears are uniquely shaped, normal cleaning methods are not always effective, and earwax can buildup in certain people.
Symptoms of excess earwax include:
- Difficulty hearing
- Fullness or ringing in the ears
- Pain in the ear
- An odor coming from the ear
People who wear hearing aids may be more susceptible to earwax buildup. Having a device in the ear can prevent earwax from escaping on its own. Earwax can be more common in older adults because the consistency of earwax changes with age.
What to do about excess earwax
The safest thing to do is visit your hearing professional or physician. Your ears will be examined and it will be determined if the earwax should be removed. Removal can be done by irrigation, suction or a curette to scoop it out. You may want to return regularly as a preventative measure against earwax buildup.
Safe, at home earwax removal methods
There are a number of safe methods for at home earwax removal. Pharmacies and retail stores sell earwax removal kits and over-the-counter drops which soften the earwax. Baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide can also soften earwax. You do need to be careful on how much you apply. Your hearing care specialist can help you with this information.
A hearing professional can help
It is important to note that people with diabetes, who are prone to ear infections, who might have a perforation in the eardrum, who have tubes, or a compromised immune system should exercise additional caution and consult with a professional prior to trying any treatment at home.
Information taken from a Starkey blog.