There are many conventional ways to clean ears. Some people prefer to use cotton swabs, while others are avid fans of ear candles. Some people do not prefer to clean their ears at all. But did you know that our ears can clean themselves? Ears don’t even need extra cleaning at all. You only need to clean your ears to remove the excess earwax from the outer ear canals. To avoid complications, it’s essential to know how to properly clean ears. If you have ear problems, it would be wiser to visit an experienced doctor.
Ears’ Self Cleaning System
As mentioned, the ears are capable of cleaning themselves. How do they do it? The cerumen or the earwax is a natural self-cleaning agent that the human body can produce. Its job is to accumulate debris, dirt, and bacteria. The earwax will leave the ears on its own and go out of the ear through jaw motions and chewing.
For most people, ear cleaning is no longer necessary. However, it might be needed due to earwax buildup that can alter your hearing. It could even lead to earwax blockage called impaction.
Here are the symptoms to watch out for if your ear is impacted:
- ringing sounds in the ear
- hearing impairment
- the odor from the ear
- pain in the ear
People who are using hearing aids or earplugs are more susceptible to excess earwax. Meanwhile, individuals with developmental disabilities may also be at risk due to the irregular shape of their ear canals. This affects the natural earwax removal process and might result in blockage.
Ways to Properly Clean Your Ears
Ideally, the safest way to eliminate earwax buildup is by visiting your doctor. During the removal process, your doctor might use tools such as a suction device, a cerumen spoon, and forceps to get rid of the blockage.
If you wish to clean your ears at home, follow these tips for a safe ear cleaning process:
Wipe with a Damp Washcloth
While cotton swabs are generally safe to use, there is a tendency for them to push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Doctors recommend using cotton swabs to clean the outer part of the ear. A damp washcloth is one of the safest alternatives for cotton swabs. In fact, it is mainly used to clean the outside of the ears of infants and babies.
Soften the Wax
There are a lot of products in local drugstores to soften the wax. Eardrops usually contain the following ingredients needed in softening the wax:
- mineral oil
- baby oil
- hydrogen peroxide
The packaging will have instructions on how to properly use the product. But in most cases, you will only need to place a few drops to your ear canal, wait for a few minutes, and clean your ears by draining them. This will help in reducing the feeling of fullness inside your ears. If cerumen impaction symptoms persist after cleaning your ears, give your doctor a call.
Ear irrigation is also one of the best ways to clean your ears properly. To do this, you will need a syringe and water or a saline solution. Experts suggest that this will be more effective if you use an ear softening product before irrigating your ear. However, this might cause dizziness, so be sure to warm the solution to body temperature before using it.
What You Should Avoid
It’s unnecessary to clean the ears all the time. As stated, our ears can take care of themselves. The use of different items such as cotton swabs and bobby pins will only push the wax to the inner parts of the ear canal, making it particularly difficult to reach. When the earwax buildup occurs in the deeper ear canal, cerumen impaction might take place.
Doctors are firm in prohibiting tiny objects inside the ears. This means that putting a sharp object, cotton swab, or things that might damage the eardrum is a big no-no. Doing so can affect your hearing, or worse, lead to total loss of hearing.
Ear irrigation should not be performed if you have:
- a hole in your eardrum
- tubes in the ear
- weak immune system
On the other note, ear candles are also not recommended. Apart from the fact that it is a very unsafe method, you might end up having more wax inside your ear from the candle. Plus, ear candles use fire to suck the wax, and if not handled properly, the fire can cause injury.
Ear Canal Complications
If you notice anything odd about your ear, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. Untreated ear blockage could cause severe complications and get worse over time. Furthermore, the wax buildup might get bigger and bigger, which will make it hard for your doctor to see the inside of the ear. Due to the blockage, other ear issues might also arise, including itchiness in the ear canal, ear pain, discharge or pus, and temporary loss of hearing.
Protecting your Ears
In addition to ear cleaning, you can also protect your ears and maintain good hearing by following the tips below:
Do not insert objects inside your ear. Putting objects inside your ear might damage your ear canals and eardrum, which could lead to impaction.
Wear protection for ears. Loud noises can irritate the eardrums. If you go to places with too much noise, wear ear protection like earplugs for safety purposes.
Avoid wearing headphones for too long. Give your ears a break from earphones and headphones, be sure to lower down the volume as well.
Seek professional help if needed. If you notice ringing, unbalanced hearing, and significant changes in your ears, call your doctor right away.
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