September 4, 2017

How to Clean Your Ears - Dos & Don'ts

how to clean your ears

Are you cleaning your ears with a cotton swab? I've got some news for you.

This is definitely the most popular way to clean your ears, but it's also one of the worst.

If you want to learn how to clean your ears the right way and without causing yourself pain and hearing problems, we have some tips for you. Read on.

So, What is Ear Wax?

The yellow, waxy material inside your ear is produced by the sebaceous gland in your ear canal, and it's commonly referred to as earwax.

Also known as cerumen, earwax cleans and lubricates the ear canal. It protects the eardrum from water, debris, insects, and bacteria.

what is earwax

Your ear canals would become dry and infected without earwax, so this yellow substance is vital to keeping your ears healthy. 

Earwax is 60% keratin, with small amounts of squalene, alcohol, cholesterol and long chain fatty acids from shedded layers of skin. While having some earwax protects your ears, having too much can cause serious problems.

Ears blocked due to hard and excessive earwax may lead to itchiness, a feeling of fullness in the ear, tinnitus, vertigo and coughing fits.

Using hearing aids and ear plugs too often may cause earwax to harden and become impacted. Cleaning the ears with Q-Tips, bobby pins or other objects may also cause impaction. Swimming may cause excessive earwax build-up in certain people.

Earwax tends to become harder and drier as people age. Other individuals prone to earwax accumulation include people with hairy or narrow ear canals, lupus, eczema, or benign growths of bone in the outer ear canal.

Should We Clean Our Ears?

There are no general medical recommendations for ear cleaning. Earwax  falls out naturally, without you noticing it. (You can wash your external ears with a wet washcloth, of course.)

Your ears do an absolutely good job of cleaning up excess earwax on their own. The fats and oils in the ears trap dirt and particles and carry them out of the ear as earwax. You shouldn't need to clean your ears very often, if ever.

The frequency of ear cleaning varies from person to person, depending on general health and lifestyle. Remove earwax when you feel blocked up or see a visible buildup of accumulation. Some people may need to clean their ears regularly while others rarely have a build-up of earwax.

Use commercial eardrops or mineral oil and other natural oils to clean your ears when you remove earwax at home, When impacted earwax causes your ears to become painful or infected, or you have hearing loss, visit your doctor to have it removed.

Earwax has a positive effect on your hearing and health unless it's hard and impacted. Leave it alone unless you have pain, hearing loss or a "plugged" ear.

Cleaning Your Ears the Right Way

Use only safe home remedies when you must clean your ears. There are several ways to banish earwax without using cotton swabs. Most of them are safe, but a few may be hazardous to your health.

Use Oils

Use mineral oil, olive oil, baby oil, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, or commercial ear drops, as they dissolve the wax naturally without hurting the ear canal.

Lie on your side and pour on few drops of oil or hydrogen peroxide in your ear using an eyedropper or syringe. Stay there for ten or fifteen minutes. Then tilt your head over a bowl or sink to drain the wax and solution out of your ear.

Ear Irrigation Kits

An ear irrigation kit consists of water and saline warmed up to body temperature. Avoid ear irrigation if you have diabetes, a hole in your eardrum, pain, hearing loss or eczema in the ear.

Your Thumb - Only If You Have To

If you must clean out your ears with something other than oil or an irrigation syringe,  After a warm shower, when earwax is moist, wrap a tissue around your thumb and wiggle it in the outer part of your ear canal to loosen earwax.

Visit a Doctor

Visit an ear, nose and throat specialist if you have pain or hearing loss. The otolaryngologist will use a small suction instrument to pull the earwax out of the ear canal.

Cleaning Your Ears the WRONG Way

There are wrong ways to clean you ears that you should avoid, here are some of them.

Don’t Use a Q-Tip or Cotton Swab

Using a cotton swab seems harmless if you push it gently into your ears, but this method can push the remaining earwax deeper into your ear canal and blocking it. Avoid putting Q-Tips, toothpicks and other items into your in your ears. You may even puncture your eardrums if you dig too deep in your ear canal.

Using a cotton swab can cause permanent damage to your ears, please avoid using them.

Never use bobby pins, keys or other objects to clean your ears. They can do even more damage than a cotton swab.

Don’t Try Ear Candling

Trendy ear candling is the rage on many holistic websites. This ear-cleaning method uses a lit wax candle to pull earwax out of the ear canal.

According to practitioners of this method, the suction of the burning candle wax sucks the earwax out of your ear and inside the candle.

The wax that people see after performing this process may come from the candle, not inside their ears.

Ear candling has no scientific basis or FDA approval. There have been reports of punctured eardrums and hearing loss after ear candling procedures.

Final Words

Learning how to clean your ears without Q-Tips will save you time and help you avoid stuffy ears and hearing loss. Avoid sticking anything smaller than your elbow (as the saying goes) in your ears to keep them clean.

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