Potentially Dangerous Home Remedies For Earwax Buildup That Should Be Avoided
Invasive ear cleaning techniques such as ear candling and the aggressive insertion of cotton swabs can damage your inner ear and eardrum and can push the wax deeper.
i) Aggressive ear cleaning with sharp, invasive tools or even Q-tips can:
- Damage the delicate skin of the ear canal
- Push the wax deeper toward the eardrum
- Introduce bacterial infections into the cavity
- Rupture your eardrum
ii) Ear candling involves igniting a hollow cone-shaped ear candle and holding its flame over the affected ear to melt the impacted earwax. However, the hot wax can drip inside your ear causing burn injuries and can further add to the cerumen impaction.
Prevention Of Blocked Ear Canals
- Never put cotton swabs into the ear canal.
- Cotton swabs just push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Reason: Cotton swabs are usually wider than a child’s ear canal.
- Earwax doesn’t need any help getting out. You can’t hurry the process.
- Never try to dig out pieces of earwax with toothpicks, match sticks or other devices. Usually, doing this just pushes the wax back in.
- These objects can also scratch the ear canal and cause an infection.
- If all of the ear wax is removed , the ear canals become itchy. They also become more prone to swimmer’s ear. This can occur in teens when cotton swabs are smaller than the ear canal.
- Limit the use of ear plugs.
Sorry But Experts Say You Should Not Be Using Earwax Removal Kits
Videos for these products are soaring in popularity on social media, but doctors recommend cleaning your ears in a much less invasive way
Ah, TikTok, home of makeup tutorials, lip-syncing tunes, cute animal content andearwax removal videos? Yes, its true, that goopy amber stuff on your For You page is coming out of someones ear canal. And, if you find that youre weirdly into it, youre not alone.
Earwax removal content is soaring in popularity on TikTok the hashtag #earwax has racked up thousands of videos, collectively reaching 5.1 billion views . The content ranges from in-office extractions performed by Ear, Nose & Throat doctors to at-home videos of people using various tools to get the sticky stuff out.
The options for earwax removal kits and techniques seem endless. Theres the Axel Glade Spadea tiny spade equipped with a camera that allows users to watch via an app on their phone as they scoop the wax from the ear canal. There are irrigation kits that purport to flush the earwax out. Theres something that looks like a drill that claims to gently remove earwax by rotating it out. Theres ear candling . And of course, there are ear drops which are used to soften earwax, making subsequent removal easier.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Why Clean Your Dogs Ears
Dogs have curvy, twisty inner ears and this anatomy provides the ideal environment for bacteria, yeast, and parasites. The inner ears can also easily collect debris since it will have to travel through various curves to get out.
Regularly cleaning your dogs ears gives you the opportunity to check for debris and other issues. It also helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Cleaning your poochs ears is especially important if they have a great deal of inner-ear hair or a lot of earwax.
Cleaning their ears also provides the perfect opportunity to check for irritation or infection.
If you notice any issues with the ears, such as:
- Hair loss
- Bad smell or discharge
Take them to the vet before cleaning. Doing any cleaning at this point can cause further irritation and possibly make it harder for your vet to diagnose.
Also, if you see black or brown ear wax that looks like coffee grounds, your dog might have microscopic ear mites which also prompts a visit to the vet.
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies
If your eardrum doesn’t contain a tube or have a hole in it, these self-care measures may help you remove excess earwax that’s blocking your ear canal:
- Soften the wax. Use an eyedropper to apply a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin or hydrogen peroxide in your ear canal.
- Use warm water. After a day or two, when the wax is softened, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently squirt warm water into your ear canal. Tilt your head and pull your outer ear up and back to straighten your ear canal. When finished irrigating, tip your head to the side to let the water drain out.
- Dry your ear canal. When finished, gently dry your outer ear with a towel or hand-held dryer.
Earwax removal kits available in stores also can be effective at removing wax buildup. Ask your doctor for advice on how to properly select and use alternative earwax removal methods.
About South Florida Ent Associates
Our team of ENT specialists are respected professionals serving the communities of south Florida in ear, nose, and throat diseases and conditions. We offer the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment, including addressing the problem of excessive earwax buildup by irrigating your ear canal with a specialized softening liquid, after which the blockage is removed with irrigation. The procedure is painless and fast. If you suffer from earwax buildup or a blockage, contact our skilled professionals today for help.
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How To Keep Earwax Under Control
Do’s and Donts of At-Home Earwax Removal
- Use a damp washcloth to wipe the outer portion of the ear each day
- Try a drop or two of a softening agent, like baby oil or mineral oil, to remove wax
- Consider an over-the-counter product containing oil or hydrogen peroxide to loosen wax
- Insert cotton swabs, fingers or other implements into the ear canal
- Irrigate your ears with water if you have a damaged eardrum or middle ear infection
- Treat a wax blockage at home visit your health care provider for symptoms like hearing loss, ringing or ear fullness
Give your ears a gentle cleansing each day. The best approach: After washing your face or stepping out of a steamy shower, cover one finger with a damp washcloth and wipe around your outer ear. De-clogging the most external exit will help with that natural migration, Ying says.
People who tend to produce an abundance of earwax may try using a softening agent, to help the wax leave the ear or to remove it more easily. If you prefer to go the natural route, try baby oil or mineral oil. Using an eyedropper, apply a drop or two into your ear, tilting your head so that the opening of the ear is pointing up toward the ceiling. Stay in that position for a minute or two to let the fluid flow down to the waxy buildup. Then tilt your head in the opposite direction to let the fluid and wax drain.
Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- What are your main symptoms?
- Do you have ear pain?
- Do you have ringing in your ears?
- Do you have trouble hearing?
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Ear Wax Buildup Explained
Ear wax is naturally produced by the body and offers a host of benefits. Normally, wax slowly moves out of the ears. Unfortunately, it is possible for wax to build up inside the ear canal, leading to feelings of fullness and pressure and interfering with hearing. The good news is that there are products available to help you rid your ears of wax.
Cleaning Your Ears Incorrectly Can Cause Serious Complications
We keep emphasizing how bad it is to stick items in your ears because self-cleaning can increase earwax blockages. Blockages are irritating enough , but a more serious potential complication of cleaning your ears incorrectly is a perforated eardrum. As we mentioned above, perforated or ruptured eardrums happen when you puncture or tear the tympanic membrane, that thin layer that separates your middle ear from your eardrum, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Typically, your eardrum can heal on its own, but sometimes it might require surgery to patch the tear, the Mayo Clinic explains. One great way to avoid a perforated eardrum is to skip sticking anything in your ears to try to clean them. We know that cotton swabs can feel good, and seeing the dirty cotton can make you feel like its all worth it. Trust us its not.
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Massage Therapy For Earwax Removal
Massaging the back of your ear with warm oil can help loosen the earwax clogged inside the ear canal and can facilitate its movement toward the opening. The mild heat from the oil can dilute the consolidated wax, while the stimulatory motion of the fingers can push it outside the ear canal.
Caution: You must acquaint yourself with the proper massage technique before attempting this earwax removal strategy. The wrong motion can aggravate your condition by pushing the wax further inside.
You can use any of the above-listed softening agents for a few days to adequately loosen and dislodge the impacted earwax and then use ear irrigation to gently flush it out of the ear canal.It may take several rounds of wax softening and ear irrigation for the excess earwax to fall out such that the blockage clears completely. If you fail to register any relief even after a few treatments, see your doctor.
Success On The Fourth Day
On the fourth day, I was feeling much better and realized I could hear through my left ear again, but not very well. I continued with another session using the softener and flushing my ear.
After 45 minutes of lying in bed with my ear up to the ceiling, I turned to let it drain into a tissue and then went over the bathroom sink to irrigate my ear a few times with warm waterwith my ear facing down and shooting upwards with the syringe bulb, as usual.
Suddenly a huge dark bit of wax fell into the sink when the water drained. I was amazed by the looks of it. That thing was in my ear? I thought to myself.
My hearing was completely normal after that, but I decided to do one more session the next day anywayjust to be sure.
I spent the next few days doing the same procedure with my other ear, even though I didnt have any problems there. I figured if I had created the problem by using the cotton swabs, I probably might have an issue developing with my right ear too. I just thought it wouldnt hurt to perform a good irrigation occasionally.
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Why Do People Have Earwax
Its hard to believe something so unappealing can be so important to your ears’ good health, yet being sticky and smelly is exactly why a normal amount of ear wax is beneficial. Consider these attributes:
- Earwax is a natural barrier that prevents dirt and bacteria from entering the innermost parts of your ears. Because it is sticky, it collects microscopic debris that finds its way into your ear canal, much like fly paper traps insects. Without this defensive barrier, your inner ear would be at risk.
- It acts as a moisturizer and protective coating for your ear canal. Without earwax, your outer ear might be itchy and flaky, which puts it at greater risk for becoming irritated and infected.
- It acts as an insect repellant. The smell of earwax keeps bugs away, while the stickiness traps those that accidentally venture inside.
The Importance Of Ear Wax
Like the sebum on your face and the mucus in your throat, ear wax is created by the body to hydrate and nourish the skin. Its stickiness prevents dust and debris from tumbling into your head. It also protects you from bacteriaearwax has antibacterial properties.
And because of that last one, you dont actually need to clean deep inside the ears for germ mitigation. The wax itself takes care of that. Since ear wax is only formed inside the canal , you neednt shove anything in there to promote better hearingbecause nothing would actually be blocking your ear drum itself unless you pushed it there yourself with a Q-tip.
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What Else Should You Know
Unless you’re certain that your ear wax isn’t deep, always start by checking with your healthcare provider. Describe your ear wax symptoms, and ask about the method of ear cleaning that’s best for you. He or she will tell you if you can try a home-removal method or should come in for an examination.
The Development Of Earwax
The medical term for earwax is cerumen , which comes from cera, Latin for wax. It starts as a mixture of fatty secretions from the sebaceous glands and sweat glands in the walls of the outer ear canal . Jaw movement from chewing or talking helps propel those secretions through the canal to the ear opening, where they dry up and harmlessly flake off.
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Impacted Earwax Buildup: How To Remove
Even though earwax has its benefits, blockages can cause conductive hearing loss. If you develop a sensation of stuffiness in your ears and suspect earwax is the culprit:
- Buy an over-the-counter ear cleaning kit if your ears are healthy. Ask a doctor for help if you have ear tubes or if you have any ear pain. Earwax buildup is not painful.
- Regularly clean your hearing aids or any other devices you put in your ears.
- Do not clean ears with a cotton swab, hairpin or any sharp instrument in an attempt to remove wax yourself. This can push the wax deeper into the ear canal where it is unable to be sloughed off naturally, or you could even puncture your eardrum.
- Do not try ear candling. Besides having no proven benefits, ear candling can cause burns, wax blockage, punctured eardrums and serious injury. Instead, follow general rules for keeping ears clean .
Maybe Train Your Dog To Accept Handling
The majority of dogs will not enjoy having their ears touched, so you have to work with them to get used to having their ears handled from a young age if you can.
This can be as simple or difficult as you make it, but the main idea is to start by gently touching your pet while still a puppy and slowly get them used to this before moving onto cleaning the ears.
For more information about this process, you can look at this article on teaching your pup to accept handling.
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What Are The Treatment Options
Cleaning a working ear can be done by washing it with a soft cloth, but do not insert anything into the ear. Ideally, the ear canals should never have to be cleaned. However, that isnt always the case. The ears should be cleaned when enough earwax gathers to cause symptoms or to prevent a needed assessment of the ear by your doctor. This condition is call cerumen impaction.
Most cases of ear wax blockage respond to home treatments used to soften wax. Patients can try placing a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or commercial drops in the ear. Detergent drops such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide may also aid in the removal of wax.
Irrigation or ear syringing is commonly used for cleaning and can be performed by a physician or at home using a commercially available irrigation kit. Common solutions used for syringing include water and saline, which should be warmed to body temperature to prevent dizziness. Ear syringing is most effective when water, saline, or wax dissolving drops are put in the ear canal 15 to 30 minutes before treatment. Caution is advised to avoid having your ears irrigated if you have diabetes, a hole in the eardrum , tube in the eardrum, skin problems such as eczema in the ear canal or a weakened immune system.
Why Is It Dangerous to Use Swabs to Remove Earwax?
When Should I Talk to a Doctor?
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