Everyone makes earwax. But some people produce more earwax than others. The shape of the ear canal, the ratio of ceruminous vs. sebaceous glands in the ear, and even the age or lifestyle of an individual are all contributing factors in earwax production.
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a yellowish substance healthy ears produce. Cerumen protects the ear from bacteria, water, and foreign particles. Earwax also assists in lubricating and cleaning the ear. However, while earwax is removed from the ear naturally, a buildup can block and make it difficult for you to hear sounds.
What happens when too much wax builds up in the ear?
Usually, earwax finds its way out of the ear canal. It either falls out during everyday activities or washes away. But sometimes, it clogs and fills the ear canal, known as “cerumen impaction.”
A cerumen impaction can cause ear pain or pressure. In some cases, it might lead to ringing and buzzing of the ear. This can occur in one or both ears.
According to research, symptoms of impaction include:
- Fullness or ringing in the ear
- Aching in the affected ear
- Impaired hearing in the affected ear.
Best ways to clean your ears at home
The safest and most protective way to remove earwax is to see a professional. An audiologist or ear specialist will use special instruments, such as a cerumen spoon, forceps, or suction device, to clear the blockage.
However, if you choose to remove earwax at home, some of the safest methods you can try include:
- Damp cloth
Using a cotton swab to clean your ear might push the wax deeper into the ear canal. So make sure you use cotton swabs only on the outside of your ear. Better still, try wiping the area with a warm, damp wash cloth.
- Over-the-counter ear-cleaning drops
Some pharmaceutical shops and stores sell over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops that soften earwax. These ear drops usually contain glycerin, mineral oil, baby oil, peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and saline.
1. Place the specified number of drops as recommended into your ear.
2. Wait for some minutes before you drain them out.
3. Make sure you follow the directions as instructed in the package.
However, if symptoms persist, you need to see a hearing specialist.
Benefits of professional ear cleaning
Most people who use cotton swabs or other items to remove earwax damage their eardrums or ear canal. Professional earwax removal is highly recommended to avoid causing trauma to the ear, i.e., abrasions to the ear canal, accidental eardrum rupture, impacted/hardened wax, ear pain, and ear pressure. Here is what professional earwax removal means:
- Protecting your ears
The most significant benefit of having a professional clean your ear is that it won’t cause any damage to your ear. Using cotton swabs can scratch your inner ear leaving you with pain. But when you engage the services of a professional, you’ll be assured of the safety of your ear.
- Learning the proper way to clean your ear
A hearing professional is in the best position to advise you on how best to clean your clean and protect your ear. They can get you on a proper cleaning schedule to avoid issues like hearing loss or tinnitus.
How a hearing professional removes earwax from your ear
Step 1: You will be asked to sit or lie on a flat surface with your head tilted. Then you will be instructed to hold an emesis basin under your ear to capture the solution.
Step 2: After that, your ear specialists will clean the outer ear as necessary using normal saline or irrigating solution.
Step 3: This is the stage where your ear cleaning professional will straighten your ear canal by pulling the pinna or outer ear.
Step 4: Then when all is set, they will Inject a slow but steady stream of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water into your ear canal.
Step 5: Finally, once that is done, you will be instructed to lie down on the affected ear for some time.
How often should you clean your ear?
You can clean your ear sparingly. Over-cleaning can lead to irritating your ear canal. But when you are experiencing earwax buildup that refuses to go away, you need to see a hearing professional to prevent complications.