I have to admit that until just a few weeks ago, I was one of the unwashed masses. I incessantly cleaned my ears of wax because I thought ear wax build up was a bad thing. I’ve never had trouble hearing because of an ear wax build up, nor have I ever had to have ear wax removed professionally, but for a long time I cleaned my ears with a Q-tip at least once or twice a week. What a fool I had been.
As it turns out, ear wax is important for your overall health, particularly the health of your ears. Ear wax removal should only be considered if you’re having hearing problems or experience constant blockages caused by excessive production of ear wax in the ear canal. Thankfully, getting rid of ear wax isn’t a difficult process. However you should have a doctor look at your ears before following the treatment for ear wax removal described here.
Before Removing Ear Wax
Here are two very important benefits provided by ear wax:
- Ear wax repels water from the surface of your outer ear canal, so that excess moisture, which encourages bacterial growth, doesn’t build up in your ear.
- Ear wax helps to maintain a certain pH balance in your ear, inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria and fungi.
How to Remove Ear Wax Safely
Do not under any circumstances stick cotton swabs or any other object in your ear to get rid of ear wax. There are a few things that can happen if you choose to put things in your ears. You could perforate an ear drum, causing you tons of pain and opening your middle ear up to a potential infection. You could scrape away too much wax, also leaving your ear canal open to a possible infection. You could also shove the impacted ear wax further into your ear making the removal of ear wax more difficult than it should be.
Start a safe process of removing ear wax by softening the ear wax with mineral oil, baby oil, or olive oil. This is usually done over the course of about 5-7 days. What you will want to do is use an eyedropper to put a few drops of oil into the ear. Tip your head to one side, with the hand that isn’t holding the eye dropper you will want to pull up on your ear while guiding the eyedropper into the entrance to of the outer ear canal with your other hand. Keep your head tilted until you can feel the oil draining into your ear. Repeat this process once in the morning and once at night for about a week.
Once you feel certain the wax has loosened up a bit, you’re going to remove the ear wax using plain old tap water. Go buy yourself one of those blue rubber bulb syringes they sell at drug stores. Now, you’re going to fill the rubber syringe with water that is as close to body temperature as you can get. If the water is too cold, you will probably feel pain and the wax will not come out as easily. If the water is too warm, you may end up getting dizzy or feeling nausea for a short while. Getting the temperature of the water as close to 98.6 degrees as you can is a good idea.
To begin removing the ear wax, tilt your head down, pull the top of your ear up, and insert the bulb syringe just into the ear canal. Then, squirt the warm water into the ear canal, making sure to get some pressure working, but not too much pressure that you cause yourself pain. Then, turn your head over toward the sink and allow the water to drain out of the ear. Look for small clumps of ear wax (usually called “plugs”) in the sink to make sure you got the impacted ear wax out. If nothing comes out, repeat the process until it does come out.
If and when the ear wax is finally removed, you should dry your ear(s) very well. This is done in two steps. First, you will want to wipe the outside of your ear off with a towel, or use a hair dryer to blow dry the outer ear. The second step is to put a few drops of rubbing alcohol into the ear canal. Tilt your head one way while you do this, wait a few seconds, and then tilt your head the other way to allow the rubbing alcohol to drain from your ear. This should dry your ear canal rather quickly, making the use of a cotton swab unnecessary.
Ear Wax Removal Products
Any doctor will tell you that the process outlined above is just as effective (if not more so) than any commercial ear wax removal product you’ll get at a drug store. Not only that, but the ear wax removal process I’ve just described will cost you a fraction of what it would to purchase one of these “professional” ear wax removal systems. Nevertheless, some people find comfort in brand name remedies. I can’t say they’re any worse than the aforementioned treatment, but they aren’t any better, either. Then again, things change. Maybe there’s a better system out there.
But before you try one of these commerical ear wax treatments, talk to your doctor to hear what advice they might offer. Heck, spare yourself the trip the office and call your doctor’s nurse, they’ll probably tell you the same thing I just did.
Excessive Ear Wax
The people who want to remove ear wax are those who produce too much ear wax, resulting in a slow but progressive loss of hearing. Ear wax that has plugged the ear canal and hardened is called impacted ear wax.
The symptoms of an impacted ear wax problem include:
- Plugged-up ears
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
Natural Ear Wax Relief
Fish oil. Eating more fish is a good step toward relieving yourself of excess ear wax. Studies suggest that there are significantly lower levels of beneficial fish oils in people who experience excess ear wax production as compared to people who possess normal amounts of ear wax–just one more reason to add more fish to your diet. If you don’t like fish, you can take supplements.
Hydrogen Peroxide has been suggested as a course of treatment for the natural removal of ear wax. The process involves using a dropper to fill your ear canal with hydrogen peroxide, letting the peroxide sit for a few minutes, and then flushing the dissolved ear wax and peroxide out of the ear with warm tap water.