You might not be aware of it, but you have been cleaning your ears the wrong way for years, according to doctors. Apparently, cleaning the ears with cotton-tipped buds can do more harm than good.
What’s in Your Earwax?
The earwax, or cerumen in medical terms, are not waste products but are lubricating and protecting self-cleaning agents with antibacterial properties. Contrary to what you were taught by your parents, the earwax is not produced in the eardrum, but in the outer ear canal. Because it’s self-cleaning, the earwax moves naturally from the eardrum to the opening of the ears along with dead skin cells. Even without assistance, it will eventually dry and fall out of the ears through the motion of the jaws. Pushing the earwax further into the ear canal with cotton-tipped buds and other applicators will only cause blockage and damage your hearing over time.
How Do You Clean Your Ears?
So, what is the proper way of cleaning your ears? You might be surprised to know that doctors do not recommend that you should clean your ears at all because it’s self-cleaning. However, that is not always the ideal case for everyone especially if there is an accumulation of earwax around the outer ears. If not cleaned, it could result to cerumen impaction which causes itching, foul discharge, earache, partial hearing loss, tinnitus, and coughing.
These are the safe ways to clean your ears:
1. Washing and Ear Drops. To clean your ears properly, the doctor recommends washing the outer ear with a clean, wet cloth. Do not insert any object into the ear canal, but if you feel that there is a blockage, you can place a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin or other ear drops.
2. Manual Removal. Earwax can be removed manually by a doctor or an otolaryngologist with the use of cleaning instruments. This is usually recommended for people with narrow ear canals and other medical conditions.
3. Irrigation. Sometimes called ear syringing, irrigation, is the use of a warm water and saline solution to clean the ears with the use of a dropper. This method is not recommended, however, for people with perforation or an eardrum hole and other ear problems.
What if Cleaning Doesn’t Work?
If you still have difficulty hearing or you feel that your outer ear is irritated or is painful, you need to consult an otolaryngologist to examine your ears. If there is a blockage, the doctor will wash or vacuum the ear canal. Do not try over-the-counter treatments because a prescription eardrops will also be recommended.
For people with recurring earwax impaction, a scheduled examination with the doctor every 6 months is recommended to remove the earwax.