Use A Tissue To Clean The Outside Of Your Ear
If the sight of earwax bothers you, put a dry tissue or cloth on your finger and dab the outer edge of the ear after you get out of the shower.
Were just trying to collect that last bit of wax on its way out, and since thats on the edge, its already probably going to fall out in your sleep anyway, Dr. Johnson says. But we can go ahead and grab that last little smear of wax. In that way, the outer appearance of our ears stays clean.
If you have trouble hearing or have water trapped in your ear, talk to your primary care doctor or local audiologist. Other signs of wax buildup are itchy ears and muffled hearing. If you do not have a doctor, find one near you.
Should I Use Cotton Buds To Clean My Ears
Everyone even health-care professionals will have done it at some point. But its dangerous and, thanks to the ears self-cleaning mechanism, unnecessary
Who doesnt enjoy sticking a cotton bud in their ear? To twist gently, pull it out and examine the white tip turned to yellow? Q-tips were part of many childhoods. The Q-tips website has users sharing how they use buds to clean not only ears but toilet cisterns and pistols. Which is just as well, as guidelines released last week by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, state that cotton buds should not be used for cleaning ears.
Earwax Will Clean Itself Out
In most people, earwax should not build up and clog the canal.It will usually make its own way out of the ear canal while new wax is secreted to replace it.The movement of your jaw, such as when you are chewing, helps move ear wax from the inside of your ear canal, away from your eardrum to the opening of your ears, where it is safe to clean with a warm damp towel or will usually get washed away while you shower.
Image via Taylor Listening Center
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Should You Clean Your Ears
Ideally, no your ear canals shouldnât need cleaning. But if too much earwax builds up and starts to cause symptoms or it keeps your doctor from doing a proper ear exam, you might have something called cerumen impaction. This means earwax has completely filled your ear canal and it can happen in one or both ears.
The symptoms of cerumen impaction are:
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in your ear
- Feeling like your ear is plugged
- Partial loss of hearing, which worsens over time
- Ringing in your ear, known as tinnitus
- Itching, discharge, or a smell coming from your ear
Alternative Ear Cleaning Methods To Dangerous Cotton Buds
When most of us think of cleaning our ears, our minds automatically jump to cotton buds. As it happens, this could be causing more damage to your ear health than it does promoting cleanliness.
It isnt all that surprising once considered. When you push the tip of the bud into your ear, it may collect small strands of wax, but it in fact forces most of it deeper into the canal, where it rests against your eardrum and inhibits the vibrations that allow you to hear. And for those who like to get really deep when cleaning, you hold the risk of puncturing your ear drum, which is not only extremely painful, but also liable to affect your hearing long term.
Your ears are natural self-cleaners, but in this blog, we explore how it is actually healthy to maintain a level of wax, and safer methods of cleaning than by using cotton buds.
It is very unsightly, but having earwax inside your ear actually keeps your canal lubricated and prevents bugs or fungus from taking up shop inside. However, if you do not want it collecting around the outside of your ears , a very effective method of cleaning is simply placing a tissue over your little finger and run it around your ear. Generally, your finger will be too large to push any earwax deeper into your canal. For the best results, do this after showering, as the warm water will have left the wax softened, making it easier to remove.
Consult a Professional
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See A Professional If Earwax Or Water Is Affecting Your Hearing
If youre having trouble hearing or water is trapped in your ear, see a doctor or audiologist.
Depending on the firmness and depth of the wax, the healthcare professionals will use different tools to get the wax out, Dr. Johnson says. Sometimes we use water, and sometimes we use special scoops to pull the wax out. Its all done under lighted microscope.
Also tell your primary care physician if you are prone to getting swimmers ear, a painful infection of the outer ear. Your doctor or audiologist can clear out the wax to prevent recurrence.
Whats The Worst That Could Happen
To be blunt, you could rupture your eardrum and cause permanent hearing loss. Scary stuff, right? Because the eardrum is easily reached with a swab, it can be easily ruptured even if youre using gentle pressure to clean away debris. When this occurs, youll know it from intense pain and because the eardrum may also leak a clear fluid.
The eardrum will eventually heal, but it may lead to something known in the otology field as conductive hearing loss. Basically this means that you wont be able to hear as well because sound conduction in the outer/ and or middle ear is disrupted.
Swabs also are notorious for merely pushing around earwax in the canal where it may cause pain, pressure or temporarily poor hearing on a more short-term basis.
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Why You Should Stop Cleaning Your Ears With Cotton Swabs
Weve all done it. Youve probably even done it a few times this week after you shower. Were talking about cleaning your ears with a cotton swab, of course. You open up that medicine cabinet, take a fresh cotton swab and jam it in your ear to clean out the wax and gunk that has taken refuge in your ear canal over the past few days. But the truth is, there are many negative consequences associated with this style of at-home ear cleaning. From super-impacted wax to punctured eardrums, there are quite a few reasons why you should stop cleaning your ears with cotton swabs.
At our practice weve seen all sorts of injuries from things being jammed into the ears: toys, paper clips, tweezers, and believe it or not plenty of cotton swab injuries. Generally, you shouldnt stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Sure, were all taught that every few days our ears need to be cleaned or wax will build up and make it harder to hear or cause pain. While this is true, and excess wax can be a bad thing, we still must recommend that nothing should be placed inside the ear to remove dirt and debris.
Put Down The Cotton Bud How To Clean Ears Safely
Put down the cotton bud! How to clean ears safely is one of the most common concerns our patients have. Given the huge amount of information out there, this is completely understandable. The first thing to know is that your mum was right never put anything in your ear thats smaller than your elbow. However, you may have heard some other things that are not quite as accurate.
So lets begin with what you should not do. Some common myths around how to clean ears are:1. Ears should be washed with soap and water2. Ears can be washed out using the shower rose3. Cotton buds should be used to clean ears and remove wax4. Wax is dirty and should be removed
The above statements are not true. Engaging in these activities will do more harm than good to your ears. Lets look at each one individually.
Ears should not be washed at all! In fact they should be kept dry. Washing ears with soap and water washes away oils produced by the skin in the ear, that is necessary to keep our ears lubricated. Without the oils, our ears would become dry, flaky and very itchy.
2. Ears can be washed out using the shower rose
Aiming water down the water canal from the shower rose can result in pain, injury and the impaction of wax deeper into the canal. This can then cause a wax blockage and even ear infection if water remains in the canal.
3. Cotton buds should be used to clean ears
4. Wax is dirty and should be removed
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Never Use Ear Candling
Ear candling might sound like a good idea in theory, but it doesnt work in practice and can lead to severe damage to the ears. Ear candling is the practice of inserting a hollow candle into the ear in the hope of creating a vacuum that dislodges any stubborn wax.
As you can imagine, gimmicks like this are not only ineffective at removing blockages but can also cause burns to the surrounding tissue.
Why Does Earwax Form
The root cause of the problem is earwax or cerumen. This is a waxy oil produced by the cells of your ear in order to protect it against dust, foreign particles and microorganisms. Many studies indicate that earwax also helps keep nasty insects out of our ears when we are sleeping. So, all in all, earwax does more good than harm. But lets be honest, it is disgusting to look at and pretty irritating.
Many people have a heavy buildup of earwax that can lead to some symptoms, such as pain, dizziness, coughing or drainage from the ear. The biggest mistake people make is to try and clean the buildup at home using sub-par methods, such as cotton swabs, bobby pins, pens or pencils and keys.
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Stop Using Cotton Swabs
Cotton swabs are almost made to be prodded in your ears. But experts now believe that they may be a common cause of impacted cerumen . Cotton swabs, when inserted into the ear canal, tend to push excess earwax towards the eardrum. Occasionally, the wax can become compacted against the ear canal wall rather than adhering to the cotton bud. This can then lead to a host of complications, including temporary hearing loss, pain, a feeling of fullness in the ear canal, tinnitus, swelling and bad odors emanating from the ear.
The general advice is to avoid putting anything in your ears that might cause the earwax to become compacted, including, cotton swabs, pen lids, bobby pins and your fingers.
Are Cotton Buds Good
Most people who use cotton buds apply it to clean dirts from their ears by gently inserting the clean soft wooly end at a time into the opening of the auditory canal of the ear .
The rationale behind this is often to clear cerumeb from the external auditory canal but, while its good to clean the outside of your ear with a cotton swab, its best to avoid breaking them inside your ear.
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Steer Clear Of These Methods
1. Using a cotton swab, or any other sharp tool
Any sharp object that you use in your ear risks you perforating your ear drum and pushing the wax into your ear canal which stops the natural self-cleaning process.
2. Ear Candling
Ear candling has increased in popularity over the past couple of years, however it actually has no proven benefits. So save your cash, and save yourself from any potential burns to your ears and face, and from the risk of hearing loss.
Avoid using cotton buds to clean your ears at all costs to protect your hearing, health and theenvironment. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
If you experience any pain, bleeding or hearing loss after cleaning your ears at home, you should see a doctor immediately. We suggest leaving those ears in peace.
If you would like to test your hearing, download the Sound Scouts app and play the game:.
Ear Drums Are Fragile
The eardrum is easily reached with a swab. Because the eardrum is so delicate, it can be easily ruptured by using even the gentlest pressure when using a swab. Ask anyone who has experienced a punctured eardrumit isnt a pleasant experience. The pain is severe and the ear may also leak a clear fluid. While a punctured eardrum will heal, it can take a while and can even lead to conductive hearing loss.
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Use Softening Solutions And Oils
When earwax becomes impacted, it can be difficult to remove. Although going to see your audiologist is a wise option, its also possible to attempt to remove the blockage yourself with the help of solutions or softening oils. Softening oils include mineral oil and baby oil while solutions include commercial earwax removal brands or salt water.
Lie with your head on the side so that the blocked ear is facing the ceiling. Then apply the softening solution, allowing it to dribble down the ear canal. After five to 10 minutes, drain the ear by sitting up, and clean up any excess with a paper towel.
How To Clean Headphone Jacks
If you have wired earphones, youll have a jack where the wire meets your earphones. This is an important part of how to clean headphones since they can be easily damaged by dirt and germs:
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Ears Usually Clean Themselves
Your ears usually do a good job cleaning themselves and dont need any extra care.
The ear actually has its own self-cleaning system. We have this misunderstanding that wax is a hygiene problem, but earwax is magical, Dr. Johnson says. Earwax is secreted from glands in the skin, lubricates the ear, and like a conveyor belt, the wax captures dirt and bacteria from the entrance of your ear canal and slides out on its own.
Earwax, technically called cerumen, is only a problem if it affects your hearing or water gets trapped behind the wax, Dr. Johnson says. For most of the population, Id rather you just leave your ears alone to clean themselves.
Dont Clean Your Ears Regularly
You might think that you should clean your ears every day like you do your teeth. But this, unfortunately, is a bad idea. The ear canal is a naturally cleansing organ. Earwax gets transported down the canal towards the outer ear as a result of movement generated when you chew or create certain facial expressions. The ear relies on there being a thin layer of lubricated material, allowing it to remove any debris or particles that inevitably get in.
Frequent washing, however, can do more harm than good because it strips the ear of this delicate, protective lining, leaving the way open for bacteria to get in and multiply. Experts, recommend that you only clean your ears every two to four weeks.
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How Can I Clean My Ears
Nature has its own way of taking care of itself. Every time you take a shower and wash your head, enough water enters your ear to loosen the earwax and make it fall out. In addition, the skin inside the ear canal grows in an outward spiral, sloughing off slowly while taking the earwax out with it. So that when you sleep, the earwax inside your ears falls out eventually on its own. However, if you have excess earwax buildup that is particularly uncomfortable and hinders hearing, visiting a professional to clean your ears is the right course of action.
Better For The Environment
Cotton buds are not only bad for your ears they are disastrous for the environment. Plastic cotton buds flushed down the toilet find their way through the filter and into the sewage systems, polluting our beaches and destroying marine life. Paper stem cotton buds are the perfect replacement for plastic ones, but you still shouldnt use them for cleaning your ears. Our Ear Cleaners are dishwasher safe and have been designed to be washed and reused many times before they need replacing, helping to reduce the amount of use-once and thrown away plastics in landfills or our oceans.
Leave the cotton buds for what they are meant for, applying make-up and cleaning babies toes. Instead, choose Safe and Sound Healths Reusable Ear Cleaners for cleaning your ears. Your ears and the environment will thank you for it.
Ear Specialists Explain 6 Reasons To Stop Cleaning Ears With Cotton Buds
People all around the world use cotton buds, or Q-tips, to clean their ears. Some do so to get rid of the wax, and many may even enjoy the sensation. You might believe that these soft, gentle products are perfect for this purpose but what if I told you that they arent?
As a matter of fact, cotton buds can be very bad for the ears. Most packages of the items even specify that theyre not to be used for that purpose still, many people go ahead and do so! Perhaps its because the warnings dont seem that serious, or because they cant imagine items so delicate being harmful.
Unfortunately, cotton swabs are fairly bad for your ears for many reasons. In some rare cases, it can even cause a severe reaction such as a brain infection that, if left untreated, could turn life-threatening and result in fatalities. Yikes!
But why, exactly do cotton buds pose such a threat to your ears? Can you really get such serious health problems from them? How are you supposed to clean your ears instead? Dont worry, weve got the answers!