Should I Remove My Baby’s Earwax
Usually there is no need to remove your baby’s earwax. It has an important role in protecting their ears. It blocks germs that could cause infection from reaching the eardrum and it prevents dirt and dust from entering your baby’s ear.
Ear wax usually makes its way to the outer ear naturally. You can gently wipe it away when you’re cleaning their ears. Dont ever poke a cotton swab, finger or anything else into your baby’s ears.
You should also avoid using remedies to remove ear wax. This risks damaging the ear canal and can even affect your babys hearing.
If you think your baby’s ears are causing them discomfort for example, if they’re tugging or pulling their ears a lot then tell your doctor in case they have an ear infection.
When To See A Doctor
People can treat most earwax blockages at home. However, the ear canal and eardrum are delicate, so it can be safer to visit a doctor for earwax removal.
People should also see a doctor if they have bleeding or drainage from the ear or are in significant pain, as another issue may be causing the symptoms.
Anyone with concerns about impacted cerumen in a young child should make an appointment with a pediatrician. They will be able to check the childs ears and recommend treatment options.
A doctor may remove the blockage using:
- a rubber ball syringe
- a small surgical instrument called a curette
It may also be necessary to see a doctor if the blockage is still present or worsening after a few days of home treatment.
Some of the home remedies listed in this article are available for purchase online.
Use Mineral Oil To Clean Ear Wax
Mineral oil helps in softening the ear wax. Tilt your head to one side and pour a few drops of mineral oil into your ear using an ear dropper. Place a cotton ball into the ear to prevent the oil from dripping out. Wait for the oil to set for a few minutes, then remove the cotton ball and tilt your head in the opposite direction to drip the oil out of your ear. Use warm water to flush out the ear wax.
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How Ear Wax Contributes To Hearing Loss
One in every three people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffers from hearing loss . The NIA also notes that ear wax impactions are linked to hearing loss in senior-aged adults, and especially in those who require hearing aids. This is because ear wax plugs can prevent sound waves from traveling through the eardrum to the middle and then inner ear. In contrast to sensorineural hearing loss that is typically irreversible, conductive hearing loss is most often caused by ear wax build-up, fluid or a punctured eardrum.
Meanwhile, age-related hearing loss is naturally-caused by the gradual damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells enable a transmittal of sound via an electrical signal carried by the auditory nerve to the brain and/or by reduced function of the tiny bones in the middle ear that carry sound waves .
While wearing hearing aids is common among adults aged 65 and older, an ear wax impaction can muffle sound even when utilizing a hearing aid. Furthermore, ear wax build-up on hearing aid earbuds can damage them . According to a Harvard Health, around 60-70 percent of hearing aids returned for repair annually due to reduced functioning were actually damaged by cerumen build-up in parts of the hearing aid, such as the vent!
Is It Ok To Use Q
Most attempts to clean the ears by using cotton swabs only result in pushing the wax further into the ear canal. Wax is not formed in the deep part of the canal near the eardrum, but only in the outer part of the canal near the external opening. So when a doctor sees with wax pushed up against your eardrum, he or she knows that it often is because you have been probing your ear with things like Q-Tips, bobby pins, or twisted napkin corners. These objects only serve as ramrods to push the wax deeper into the ear and can lead to problems.
The skin of the ear canal and the eardrum is very thin and fragile, and is easily injured. The ear canal is more prone to infection after it has been stripped clean of the good, coating-type wax. Doctors see many perforated eardrums as a result of the above efforts. If you have symptoms or signs of impacted earwax consult with your doctor.
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What You Should Avoid
Its 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.
Cleaning Your Ears With Liquid Solutions
Tip: Use water thats as close to your body temperature as possible. Using water thats cooler or warmer than your body can cause vertigo.XTrustworthy SourceMedlinePlusCollection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of MedicineGo to source
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Excessive Earwax Or Infection
This is a common question and for good reason. As a mom whos often rushed her child to the doctors office, simply to be told that its merely a buildup, I know how tricky it can be.
Its often hard to tell whether or not your little one has a buildup of wax or is suffering from an ear infection. Most of the signs are the same. A child with a buildup of wax may rub or tug their ears as if it were an infection. Equally confusing, infants tug their ears when experiencing discomfort from teething.
But fever and trouble sleeping are generally the telltale signs of an ear infection in a baby or small child.
If its nothing more than extra wax, you can usually see it just by looking into the ear. Take a flashlight and gently tug the earlobe back and away from the head to get a better look. Here you will likely see brownish or yellow drainage.
If the fluids are milky-like pus, clear, or traces of blood are present, it could be an infection. An additional note about this: ear wax will not drain from the ear continuously or profusely infected fluid will and warrants a doctor visit.
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When It Comes To Your Child Where You Take Them Matters
If your child has ear infections, strep throat or other issues that impact their ears, nose or throat, find a pediatric otolaryngologist or click the link below to schedule an appointment.
Nandini Govil, MD, MPH, joined Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta as a Pediatric Otolaryngologist and joined Emory University as an Assistant Professor in 2019. She came to Atlanta by way of Pittsburgh, Penn., where she completed a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh.
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.
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How To Safely Clean Your Child’s Ears
A moderate amount of earwax is healthy, so most of the time, ear cleaning is not needed. But if your child experiences wax buildup in the ear canal, it is important you know how to safely clean his ears.
Everyone has earwax, but some people notice it in their earsor in their childrens earsmore than others.
“It seems like there are a lot of misconceptions about earwax, says Nandini Govil, MD, MPH, a Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, but it is totally normal and not anything dangerous.
Earwax acts as a lubricant for the ear. It is made by the sebaceous glands in the hair follicles in the ear canal. The lubrication properties in earwax help decrease the chances of irritation and infection in your childs ears.
Removing Excessive Ear Wax
While an ear wax blockage is generally not considered a medical emergency, it best to have it removed by a healthcare provider who has experience treating disorders of the ears .
According to the American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery, you should avoid using a cotton swab or sharp object to try to remove wax yourself. You may push the wax down further in the ear, creating or worsening an ear wax blockage, or you may accidentally puncture the eardrum.
There are a couple of different acceptable ways to remove ear wax. One is by water irrigation. The healthcare provider may use a syringe full of lukewarm water to flush the wax out of the ear. This should only be slightly uncomfortable.
Sometimes letting a little bit of water sit in the ear prior to irrigating will loosen the wax. Some people have complained of feeling dizzy or nauseous during the procedure. This method isnt always effective, and there is a chance that you can introduce bacteria into the ear in the process.
Some healthcare providers may use a water jet device such as a WaterPik for irrigation, but this is not the best method due to the discomfort it can cause and the possibility of damaging the ear it introduces. Water irrigation should never be done if you have or suspect you have a ruptured eardrum, due to the risk of infection.
The FDA warns against ear candling because of the risk of burns.
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What Does It Mean When Earwax Becomes Impacted
We say that earwax is impacted when it has built up in the ear canal to such a point that there may be signs that something isnt quite right. Its important to note that most people might never need to clean their ears. Ears are designed to clean themselves. Earwax buildup and blockage often happens when people use items like cotton swabs or bobby pins to try to clean their ears. This only pushes the earwax farther into the ears and can also cause injury to the ear.
The Genesis And Treatment Of A Common Ear Condition
Some earwax is good for your ears, so often the best policy is to leave it alone. And a few drops of water may be all you need to get rid of a blockage.
Earwax, a bodily emanation that many of us would rather do without, is actually pretty useful stuff in small amounts. Its a natural cleanser as it moves from inside the ear canal outward, gathering dead skin cells, hair, and dirt along the way. Tests have shown that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. If your ears dont have enough earwax, theyre likely to feel itchy and uncomfortable.
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What Causes Excess Earwax Buildup
No one knows for sure why some people have problems with earwax and others dont. Older adults tend to have more problems with earwax than younger adults. People, especially older men, with coarse wiry hairs in the ears may have more problems. Some people may have the problem in just one ear. Hearing aid users must watch for a buildup of earwax because the ear mold of a hearing aid acts like a dam, preventing the wax from moving out of the ear canal.
Your ear can also get blocked with earwax if you use objects to clean the ear canal. An object may push earwax deeper into the ear canal and compact it. The earwax hardens and may cause a sudden loss of hearing or ear pain.
Never try to remove earwax yourself with objects such as a cotton-tipped swab, car key, bobby pin, toothpick, matchstick, or high-pressure water spray. These are unsafe tools for removing earwax and often push the earwax further down the ear canal toward the eardrum. Such objects hurt the ear canal and can make a hole in the eardrum. They may damage the small bones in the middle ear behind the eardrum. They can even damage the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss.
Why Do Ears Make Wax
Earwax is made in the outer ear canal, the area between the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of the head and the middle ear. The medical term for earwax is cerumen .
Earwax has some important jobs. It:
- acts as a waterproof lining of the ear canal, protecting it and the eardrum from germs that can cause infection
- traps dirt, dust, and other particles, keeping them from injuring or irritating the eardrum
The wax makes its way through the outer ear canal to the opening of the ear. Then it either falls out or comes out during bathing. In most people, the outer ear canal makes earwax all the time, so the canal always has enough wax in it.
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What Are The Benefits To Cleaning Your Ears
How do you remove ear wax safely? The reason we feel tempted to clean our ears is because of a substance called cerumen, commonly called earwax. Its normal for your body to produce it, and it actually helps protect and lubricate your ears. If you didnt have earwax, your ears would probably be itchy and dry. Earwax even has antibacterial properties, which means your ears are self-cleaning. Earwax is like a filter for your ears, keeping out harmful things like dirt and dust, and trapping them so they dont go deep inside. If it does build up inside your ear canal, especially if it clogs the canal, then you should know how to safely remove ear wax at home before it impairs your hearing.
Warm Water And A Washcloth
For most people, this simple method removes all excess earwax. Our ears are actually self-cleaning. Earwax migrates from the eardrum to the outer ear, taking dirt and debris with it. When you try to stick something inside the ear canal, youre actually pushing earwax back toward your eardrum, possibly creating a problem. Thats why its best to let nature do its thing and allow your earwax to move out to the outer ear. Take a wet washcloth and wipe the wax from your outer ear. If you need a little more help to move the earwax, you can tip your head to one side and squeeze warm water from the washcloth into your ear canal. Let it sit for a while, then tilt your head in the opposite direction. Do this for both ears.
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When To Call The Pediatrician
While some people have more earwax than others, in general the ear makes as much wax as it needs. Rarely do kids ears make too much wax. However, there are some concerns that Dr. Chavan says warrant a call to the pediatrician:
- The child complains of ear pain, itchiness or discomfort, like a blocked feeling in the ears.
- The child is experiencing hearing difficulties.
- An infant or toddler tugs at their ears, which can be a sign of an ear problem.
- The child has green earwax or yellowish green earwax, foul smelling earwax or the earwax is tinged with blood. These could be signs of an infection.
After you seek advice from a pediatrician, they may recommend removing the earwax in some instances: its painful, itchy or uncomfortable it affects hearing or to provide a better view of the eardrum to check for problems.
Removal typically happens in the pediatricians office, and while the process may be slightly uncomfortable, it isnt painful. Here are a few methods the provider might try:
- They might scoop, pull or suction it out with special instruments designed for this purpose.
- They might flush it out with warm water. Sometimes a doctor will put drops into the ear canal to soften the wax and break it down. They might also ask you do this at home and then return to the office for wax removal.
Removal takes only a few minutes, Dr. Chavan says. If theres a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic ear drops.