The auditory canal—the slightly more technical term for ear canals—is essential to your hearing system. Keeping it clean and healthy is imperative to maintain your hearing ability and avoid the risk of hearing loss.
As the barrier that protects the middle and inner ear from harmful foreign particles and bacteria, these canals naturally produce earwax. With the shape and size of the auditory canal playing a role in amplifying and directing sound waves toward the eardrum, its health becomes even more of a priority.
Discover the dos and don’ts for healthy auditory canals to prevent hearing loss and other ear-related medical conditions.
What Happens with Unhealthy Ear Canals
The ear canal is the first point of contact with sound waves entering the ear. Any irregularities, like blockages in the canal, affect your hearing, causing discomfort. They may even lead to hearing impairment.
Common issues with the auditory canal include earwax blockage, infections, and structural anomalies. Symptoms that indicate a problem with the auditory canal are pain, hearing loss, or discharge from the ear.
If you experience these symptoms, contact a hearing care professional and schedule a checkup. As you wait for the appointment, the following do’s and don’ts may guide you on appropriate actions.
Auditory Canal DOs
The list of DOs to keep your ear canal healthy is long, starting with some basic ones.
- DO protect your ears from loud noises. Exposure to loud noises causes damage to your ear’s delicate structures, potentially causing hearing loss. Wearing ear protection in noisy environments is recommended.
- DO use high-quality protective devices. Some ear protection devices work only when made of suitable quality materials. Specific tools, like earmuffs, may not work as effectively as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. And even with plugs and headphones, custom-made ones may be better than regular ones.
- DO control your exposure to loud sounds. If loud sounds or activities are your entertainment of choice, maintaining your exposure to the noise level will keep your ears healthy. You can do this by limiting the period you listen to loud music. Also, keep the volume of your audio devices low and take breaks from the noise.
Several other DOs on the list may not be at the top of your mind. But don’t take these measures for granted, as they may help your canal to be healthy.
- DO monitor your hearing. Pay attention to changes in your hearing. Take notice if you struggle to follow conversations, hear muffled sounds, or have ringing in your ears. If you’re unsure about the condition of your ear canal, take a hearing quiz. If the problem persists, contact hearing professionals for evaluation.
- DO have regular checkups and hearing exams. Going to a hearing center or clinic to consult with audiologists is worthwhile. Regular checkups and periodic hearing exams can keep you updated on your ear condition and prevent deeper issues from occurring.
- DO clean your ears safely and, if possible, professionally. Cleaning your ears from excess wax buildup at home is most safely done using a soft cloth to wipe the outer part of your ears. Let the wax be expelled naturally. The most responsible action is cleaning your ear canal professionally by audiology services.
Auditory Canal DON’Ts
The list of DON’Ts is just as crucial as the DOs, filled with measures to keep your auditory canal healthy.
- Don’t clean your ears obsessively. The natural process of earwax production should be allowed to happen without too much interruption. Cleaning your ears too frequently can disrupt the process, resulting in the wax and dirt getting pushed deeper into the ear canal. Avoid this if you want to prevent wax buildup and blockage.
- DON’T use any foreign objects to clean your ears. Cleaning your ears with a cotton swab can be harmful, let alone other foreign objects not intended for ear cleaning. Items like toothpicks, bobby pins, or anything with a pointed end will harm your ear canal. Let the cleaning happen naturally and, if necessary, have it done professionally.
- DON’T let water or moisture enter your ears. Excess humidity in your auditory canal can lead to infections. If water gets in your ear, drain your ear by tilting your head to the side and drying the outer ear with a towel. If you’re prone to swimmer’s ears, use ear drops to dry out your ears. However, consult first with an audiologist or an ear specialist before using any drops.
- Don’t try alternative treatments without consulting a medical professional. Treatments like ear candles and hydrogen peroxide clean your ears effectively from earwax buildup. But these notions may be false or carry risks. Before you jump into using these ear-cleaning treatment methods, always consult a medical professional.
Keeping Your Ears Clean
Keeping your ears clean and your auditory canal healthy guarantees a brighter future for your overall health and well-being.
The list of DOs includes previously unthought-of actions like monitoring your hearing and consulting with professional audiologists. Meanwhile, the list of DON’Ts includes not consulting an ear specialist before using over-the-counter ear drops and alternative treatments.
El Dorado Hearing in Tucson, AZ, offers comprehensive services like earwax cleaning for optimal hearing health conditions. We also have a complete list of hearing aids available to improve your hearing impairment.