If your ears have been feeling clogged up lately, it’s possible that you have a buildup of ear wax. While your first instinct might be to try and clean it, there are a few reasons why that might not necessarily be the wisest decision:
- A certain amount of ear wax is a good thing.
- The method you use to clean your ears could be very dangerous for your hearing health.
When Ear Wax is Good for You
Ear wax is part of a healthy ear canal. It traps any dirt or debris that might find its way in there, and it stops dirt from reaching your eardrum. Ear wax also helps inhibit the growth of any fungi or bacteria in the ear canal.
When a Buildup of Ear Wax Requires Attention
There is a point, though, when you might have too much ear wax in your ears. This can cause your ears to feel clogged up, and it can affect your balance, making you feel dizzy. Some people even report headaches from the buildup.
A buildup of ear wax can also affect your hearing – some people who see us assume that they have a mild hearing loss only to find that their hearing has actually been affected by too much ear wax rather than a hearing problem.
These are some good reasons for clearing out the ear wax.
The Reasons for a Buildup of Ear wax
One of the reasons why a person might have a lot of ear wax is because they are used to cleaning it out themselves every time they notice a small amount. Unfortunately, what this can do is cause the ear canal to create even more ear wax in response.
It’s natural to try to remove the ear wax yourself at home rather than spend the time and money to have someone remove it for you. Enter the DIY choice of all – YouTube.
If you look up videos on how to clean your wax out of your ears, you’ll find some fantastical suggestions, so it would behove you to know if any of these suggestions work and if the suggestions that look good are actually safe or dangerous.
Because we’ve been providing hearing healthcare for many years, we have seen all the results of people’s efforts to remove their ear wax. We’d like to share the good and the bad with you below, so that you can know what might be worth trying and what to avoid.
Do Not Try and Remove Ear Wax This Way
First and foremost, please avoid trying this method. Granted, there are a lot of videos and articles about how to do ear wax candling, claiming that it’s a great idea, but seriously, who came up with the thought that dripping hot wax into your ear canal was smart?
There is absolutely no proof that this works, and you might burn your ear, face, or hair with the flame. Some people have even started a house fire from trying this.
The FDA has even commented on this, saying ear candling is ineffective and risky.
Cotton Swabs and Q-Tips
People have been using cotton swabs for decades to clean out their ear canals, and we really don’t recommend it at all. Sometimes the results can be even worse than with those trying ear candling.
The reason why is that when you put a cotton swab in your ear canal, it pushes any ear wax that’s near the tip of the canal farther down your ear, possibly causing the ear wax to become impacted and much more difficult to remove.
It isn’t likely that the Q-tip will hit your eardrum, but there are many stories from our casualty departments about people who fell, or something hit their arm, while a Q-tip was in their ear, and they perforated their eardrum.
Q-tips have a warning on the box saying that using them in the ear canal is dangerous. Sadly, not many people pay heed.
Before considering ear drops, be careful to account for allergies to certain types of oil or ingredients in the drops.
Also, if you have an ear infection or you’ve had ear surgery or a ruptured eardrum, don’t use ear drops as this could damage your hearing permanently.
Over-the-counter ear drops
Sold online and in pharmacies and stores, some ear drops claim to soften ear wax. Most of these will do what they promise.
Simply use the dropper to measure the number of drops you put in the ear canal once or twice a day; and after a few days, hopefully, softened ear wax will fall out.
However, if the ear wax has become impacted or you have a large buildup, no number of ear drops will help. Only a hearing specialist will be able to see how much ear wax is in your ear canal and how impacted it is and have the tools to remove it.
Olive oil or mineral oil drops
As a cheaper alternative to over-the-counter ear drops, a lot of people use olive oil or mineral oil. Use two or three drops a day for a week or two and it can soften the ear wax.
Clean out Your Ears with Hydrogen Peroxide
Found at any local pharmacy or grocery store, you can put a mixture of 3% peroxide and lukewarm water in your ear to help soften the wax. Don’t use it undiluted as it will make your ear itch and dry it out.
Then lie on your side after a few minutes to let it seep out. This can sometimes work to remove the wax.
Because hydrogen peroxide has an even thinner viscosity than ear drops, know this can be very damaging to the eardrum if there’s even the slightest chance it’s damaged from surgery, an infection, or a perforation.
Ear Wax Removal Near Me in Nova Scotia
The safest way to remove ear wax is to have a hearing professional do it for you. Here at Provincial Hearing, we have the tools necessary to clean out your ear wax efficiently and thoroughly.
We’ll remove your ear wax either with irrigation or a curette, or we’ll use a combination of both methods, to make sure your ear canals are left empty.
If your ear wax was affecting your hearing, we can also do a hearing test to make sure all is well in that department too.
Schedule your ear wax removal session at our Bridgewater, Kentville, or Truro location. Or call us with any questions about removing ear wax at home. We hope the uncomfortable feeling in your ears is resolved soon.