Ear wax naturally migrates toward the ear canal and gradually loosens, falls out or is washed away over time. Therefore, it is best not to attempt cleaning ears yourself using cotton swabs or “self-cleaning” methods such as ear candling (inserting a hollow cone into the ear canal and lighting it).
MinuteClinic health care providers use an otoscope to safely extract any earwax that accumulates.
1. Ear Wax is Dirty
Earwax may seem unusually bizarre to us, yet it plays an integral role in your ears’ self-cleaning system. Acting as natural moisturizer and water repellant, earwax protects both inner and outer ears while acting as an important form of protection and defense from foreign bodies such as dirt or dead skin cells that would otherwise penetrate. Additionally, its composition allows it to collect dead cells, hairs and dirt that might enter through other methods and trap them inside – an effective self-cleaning mechanism!
Your ear canal contains small hairs and glands that produce wax naturally, with movement of your jaw contributing to pushing the wax out through its natural pathway towards its outer opening where it eventually dries up and flakes off. Utilizing your ear canal as intended is a safe and natural way to clear out earwax naturally.
If your ear canals are producing too much earwax, it is wise to consult a doctor or an ENT specialist rather than trying to remove excess earwax yourself at home. Doing this on your own may only serve to push more into the canal and cause blockages that require medical intervention.
Slow the rate of earwax accumulation by applying some mineral oil, baby oil, saline solution or hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball to your ears. Tilt your head forward while holding the cotton ball still for approximately one minute to let gravity pull earwax through its canal and eventually drain out through your ear canal. Next tilt back so the excess earwax drains out before tilting your head again to let any remaining fluid escape your ears.
Never use small items such as swabs, bobby pins, hairpins, tweezers or similar devices to remove earwax, as these could puncture the eardrum and cause pain, hearing loss and infections. Even home remedies like irrigation and vacuum kits haven’t been well studied to be sure they’re effective or safe – using these or improper removal methods could result in an impacted earwax blockage which may rupture your eardrum, cause infections or cause ringing in the ears ringinging in ears.
2. Ear Wax Causes Hearing Loss
Earwax is one of the body’s primary defense mechanisms. It helps moisten and protect the ear canal and clean away debris, but too much earwax may clog the canal, leading to earaches, infection or hearing loss. According to American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery guidelines, leaving your earwax alone is best practice; removal should only occur if there is a legitimate issue present.
If you tend to produce excess earwax, try encouraging its natural migration out of your ear with regular cleanings using warm water and adding small amounts of baby oil, mineral oil or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to the outer ears canal in order to loosen and encourage wax’s movement outwards. Probing with cotton-tipped swabs, tiny metal spoons, bobby pins or twisted napkin corners could further push earwax deeper into the canal and worsen your condition.
Some individuals may require special earwax removal products available from most drug stores or online. Unfortunately, over-the-counter solutions often cause buildup of hard to remove earwax that leaves users vulnerable to ruptured eardrums and other complications.
Rarely, doctors can utilize specialized tools to remove earwax. Before this occurs, however, the physician will soften the wax with some baby oil or commercial ear drops so it is easier for him or her to flush from the ear canal.
Ear candling has grown increasingly popular as an at-home treatment for earwax removal, yet limited clinical trials have yet to confirm it’s safety or efficacy. Ear candling could cause injuries if flames come in contact with the eardrum or other sensitive parts. You should never attempt it yourself if you suffer from tinnitus, diabetes, a hole or perforated eardrums, have tubes in their ears or have had previous ear surgery procedures.
3. Ear Wax is a Symptom
Most people don’t consider earwax an essential component of good hearing health, yet its main function is actually beneficial. Earwax protects the ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing bacteria growth; when buildup occurs it may lead to pain, ringing in ears, fullness or vertigo sensations and more serious symptoms like vertigo. OTC pain relievers may help alleviate discomfort; antibiotics will generally resolve an bacterial infection quickly.
Ear wax serves another important purpose in the body: self-cleaning of the ear canal. Through everyday jaw movement (chewing and talking) and the eardrum, it moves earwax towards its opening where it either washes away with water washout or falls out as new wax forms. However, when plugs or hearing aids interfere with this natural process or when people overclean their ears with cotton swabs or a syringe they could cause further blockages that perforate eardrum perforations or push earwax deeper into their canal and even perforate the eardrum perforations.
Some individuals produce more earwax naturally, and those with different ear anatomy produce even more. Frequent or chronic ear infections may also contribute to excess earwax production as the body produces it as a defense mechanism against water and bacteria that haven’t been effectively cleared out from your system.
Home remedies to remove earwax are usually ineffective; using methods such as putting candles in your ear or an ear vacuum kit may just push more earwax into the canal. Instead, lying down with head tilted slightly forward and using plain water or saline solution to drip a few drops into ear canal is the safest and most efficient method to do this safely; then tip head backward to allow gravity drain off excess liquid/wax out through drainage ducts – repeat several times daily as this process needs repeating several times daily for maximum results! Do not attempt using vacuum or syringe removal as this may cause pain as well as damage your eardrum.
4. Ear Wax is a Sign
Ear wax (cerumen) is a naturally produced substance that helps keep ears clean and healthy. It works by pushing dirt, soap, and other impurities toward the surface where they are washed off by body fluids or during showering; in addition it has antimicrobial and fungicidal properties to keep your ear canal free of infections and debris.
Color, texture and the amount of earwax produced can differ between individuals. People who produce excessive earwax may need it removed on a more regular basis as excess build-up may block up and block their ear canal, leading to hearing loss or infections in the canal.
As a healthcare professional, you can play an invaluable role in helping your patients understand the purpose and safe removal methods for earwax. Around 95% of people have naturally self-cleaning ears with follicles in the canal helping move earwax towards its outer side; once in contact with its opening jaw movement such as talking or chewing can force it out through jaw openings to wash away debris that remains.
If your patient produces excessive earwax or has an unusually narrow ear canal, you should advise them to use over-the-counter eardrops in order to soften and slow the production of it. In addition, suggest they wait until their ears produce it naturally rather than attempt removal using cotton swabs and other do-it-yourself methods which could push more wax back into their ears resulting in further build-up.
If a patient exhibits symptoms of earwax blockage, such as pain, discomfort or hearing loss, you should refer them to their physician for safe and effective removal methods. Do not encourage at-home remedies like ear candling as this can be dangerous and damage their ear canal and eardrum. Instead, your patient should visit their physician if their earwax appears oozing from its canal, has flaky layers or expels gray or black flakes from its canal.