We all know the satisfaction of sticking a Q-tip inside our ears to clean out the earwax. But is this really necessary?
The answer is no! In fact, by doing so, you can cause more problems for your ears. In cleaning your ears, you risk the possibility of pushing the earwax far into your ear canal, which could cause it to become impacted and affect your hearing.
So what are you supposed to do if you notice a major earwax buildup?
First, it is important to understand the functions of earwax, as well as how to clean your ears, and when you should visit a doctor. Read on to find out more.
What is Earwax?
A lot of people want to know how often they should clean their ears. But the fact of the matter is, most people will never need to clean their ears. Earwax is a completely natural and normal substance produced by our bodies to lubricate our ears and keep the eardrums protected.
Substances such as dirt, dust, and other things can get inside your ears and cause harm to your eardrums, but earwax traps these substances and keeps them from getting inside. Earwax helps to clean out your ears on its own, and therefore, doesn’t really need to be cleaned.
As you chew and move your jaw for other purposes, earwax moves out of your ear canal and into the outer ear, where it will fall out on its own. This is an area that you may clean if you feel the need to.
What Is Impaction? What are its Symptoms?
As we already mentioned above, in most cases earwax is natural and normal substance and keeps our ear canals healthy.
However, there are people who produce too much excess wax, which can in turn affect your hearing. When this happens, you’re most likely experiencing impaction.
Here are several symptoms, which are a common sign that you have impaction:
- ear pain
- ringing in your ears
- impaired hearing and trouble hearing in the affected ear
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure you make an appointment for a hearing specialist. They’ll be able to give advice diagnosis or treatment,
Keep in mind that people who wear a hearing aid, or any type of hearing aid device or ear plugs, are more likely to develop excess wax. In that case, it’s worth taking a look at several self cleaning ear wax removal kits.
Why Should I Avoid Cleaning My Ears?
Of course, we all want to stay on top of our ear hygiene. But it’s really not necessary to clean out your ears. If you do take a q-tip and insert it into the ear canal for cleaning, you can greatly increase the risk of pushing earwax deep into the ear canal.
This is because earwax is actually formed in your outer ears. This can cause impaction, which is when your ears are completely blocked.
And then there are some people who like to use sharper objects, such as bobby pins, but this is even more dangerous because you run the risk of puncturing your eardrum and causing severe damage to your ears.
Dos and Don’ts for Cleaning Ears
With all that being said, sometimes you do feel the need to clean your ears because of some buildup. Here’s a short guide on what you should and should not do when that need arises.
- Use hydrogen peroxide. It may seem like hydrogen peroxide is a popular way for some people to clean their ears, but it could actually make your problem a lot worse if you find that the earwax buildup is due to something else.
- Use ear candles. Some people recommend ear candles for cleaning earwax, but they’re actually not all that effective and might cause more harm than good. Even the FDA has warned against ear candling because you could end up burned or causing severe damage to your ears.
- Use q-tips or cotton swabs deep in your ears. You may use a q-tip if absolutely necessary, but it should only be used in the immediate outside of your ear. Do not stick the cotton swabs deep into the ear canal as you could potentially push the earwax inside and cause injury and impaction.
- Use a damp cloth. It is recommended that you use a damp cloth to clean the outside of your ears, but make sure you don’t go deep in your ears.
- Use a type of earwax softener. You can also use a couple drops of mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, or an over-the-counter kit that will help to soften the earwax inside your ears.
- Use a syringe. It can be effective to use a syringe, which will be effective if you use a softener beforehand. You can then either use a saline solution or water to irrigate the ears.
When Should I See a Doctor?
There might come a time during all of this when it will be necessary to go to the doctor who will examine you and in some cases perform a hearing test.
If you do experience impaction, muffled hearing or you have problem hearing, then it might be a good idea to have this checked out by a doctor so you can get your ears cleaned professionally.
If you experience pain in your ears, there is a chance that you may have an infection. Definitely avoid trying to do anything about this on your own.
Your doctor may clean your ears to find out what’s going on. And if you notice that your ears get blocked up often, you can schedule appointments for a doctor to clean them.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
In order to keep your ears healthy, there are a few things that you can do on your own. For one, most medical professionals recommend that you avoid putting anything that’s smaller than an elbow inside of your ear. Doing so can cause impaction or severe damage.
In addition, you should limit the amount of loud noise that you are exposed to. If you like to listen to music with headphones, make sure to take breaks from time to time and don’t tune up the volume up too high. And if you are someone who works in a field where there are lots of loud noises, consider getting a pair of protective earplugs or earmuffs.
Being exposed to loud sound for a long periods of time, can even result in hearing loss. If you wear a hearing aid, it’s important to keep them clean from any any earwax or dirt that can get trapped. One way to do this is by getting a hearing aid dryer and dehumidifier.
And finally, if you like to swim, make sure that you do your best to get water out of your ears and keep them dry.
We all want to stay clean, but there are some parts of their bodies that do this on their own. This includes your ears. If you do notice that there is a lot of unsightly wax near the opening, you can take a damp cloth and gently wipe it off.
But you should absolutely avoid using a q-tip inside your ear canal and leave deep cleaning to the professionals. This could cause wax impaction or, in some cases, damage. After all, wax functions to keep our ears clean, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of with this absolutely necessary substance.