Can we do “proper ear cleaning”: Should you see an audiologist?
With the many suggested methods of cleaning your ears, choosing which to follow can be confusing. Most people typically use a cotton swab a few times a week, but you’ve probably heard that doing this can bring more harm than good.
Seeking audiology services for expert care and advice is generally a good idea, especially if you have a blockage or ear discomfort. But if there’s nothing wrong with your hearing organs, you can care for them on your own.
Earwax may seem dirty, and you might think you must immediately remove it from your ears. But this waxy substance, also known as cerumen, is produced by your body to protect your auditory organs. Earwax traps dust and bacteria and prevents them from harming the sensitive parts of your ears. Aside from this, cerumen helps lubricate your ears. Without it, these organs would feel itchy and dry.
The Ear’s Self-Cleaning Mechanism
In general, earwax falls off your ears naturally. Every time you chew and move your jaw, this waxy substance gets pushed out of the ear canals to the ear openings. There, your earwax dries out and falls out of your ears.
Proper Ear Care
In general, removing your earwax is unnecessary since your body already does the job. But if your ears feel dirty, you can clean the outside of your ears with a damp washcloth. Try adding a few drops of mineral oil to soften the earwax.
However, you don’t have to clean your ears every day. Doing so can only strip your ears of your protective earwax, leaving the way open for bacteria to cause an infection. Generally, it’s best to clean your earlobes every two to four weeks.
Things You Should Avoid When Cleaning Your Ears
There are several things you shouldn’t use when cleaning your ears. Here are some of them:
- Cotton Swabs – Earwax is formed in the outer section of your ear canal. Using foreign materials like cotton swabs will pick up only the superficial wax and push the rest deeper into your ears, potentially causing blockage and harm to your eardrums. If you have cotton swabs in your home and don’t want to waste them, you can use them to clean the outermost parts of your ears.
- Ear Candles– Ear candling is a dangerous procedure. Aside from the risk of burns on your face, your eardrums can get perforated, and candle wax can fall inside your ears, causing a blockage. Despite these risks, there’s no clear evidence of the effectiveness of using ear candles to suck out your ear wax.
- Syringe – Using a syringe can be effective at cleaning your ears. However, this technique can be risky without professional skill and can damage the eardrums.
You should consult an ear specialist before using any over-the-counter kit or home remedy if you have excess earwax. A professional can recommend the best tool and guide you on how to use it.
When To Visit an Audiologist for Ear Cleaning
Too much wax can sometimes build up in your ears and cause discomfort. Here’s how to determine when you should see an audiologist for ear cleaning:
- Clogged Ears – A full sensation in your ears is typically an early sign of a blockage, otherwise known as cerumen impaction, which can be painful and dangerous.
- Ringing Sensation – If you have ringing ears, also known as tinnitus, this condition could be caused by a buildup of earwax near the eardrum.
- Smelly Ear Wax – Unpleasant-smelling earwax is typically caused by a fluid discharge from your ears and may signal an infection.
- Swimmer’s Ear – Water remaining in your ears after swimming can create a breeding ground for bacteria and cause an infection known as Swimmer’s Ear. Symptoms of this condition include itching, redness, swelling, and pain in the ear.
- Slight Hearing Loss – Excess earwax and blockage can also cause slight hearing loss in your ears, and you should consult an expert immediately if this happens.
- Persistent Itchiness – A constant itchy sensation in your ears may indicate an infection or excess wax that a specialist should remove.
Older adults and men are more likely to suffer from ear wax blockages. Hearing aids may also interfere with your ear wax’s ability to clean itself, making you more prone to impactions. If you have a history of ear wax blockages, it is also best to seek audiology services for preventive cleaning every six months or one year.
You can keep your hearing organs healthy and prevent blockages and infections with proper ear care. If you experience ear pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to consult an audiologist.