Have you seen advice not to use cotton swabs to clean your ears because of the damage they may cause to your ear drum? That’s good advice: cotton swab injuries are common, and can result in puncturing the ear drum, damaging delicate inner ear areas, and even vertigo or permanent deafness!
But if you can’t use cotton swabs, what should you use to clean build-up, dirt or ear wax from your ears?
Ear wax is a sign of healthy ear function.
Did you know ear wax is a good thing? Our ears produce wax in order to trap bacteria, dirt and other things to prevent those particles from entering our inner ears and our heads!
Ear wax is a very important part of keeping ourselves healthy, so as long as you don’t have overproduction of ear wax, it’s not usually necessary to clean it at all. The normal activities of chewing and otherwise moving our jaws generally moves ear wax down the ear canal and out of our ears.
Ear Wax Impaction
Rarely, some people have an over-production of ear wax. If that happens and the ear wax builds up and is not naturally escorted from the ear canal, you may have impaction, which can affect hearing.
Other symptoms of impaction are a ringing in the ear, an odor coming from the ear, an earache, dizziness or a cough.
Frequent use of ear plugs or hearing aids can sometimes cause impaction as well, when the ear wax is prevented from moving out of the ear canal normally. Some people just may have an ear canal that is shaped differently, which can also affect the natural removal of ear wax.
So how can I remove ear wax safely?
If you suspect you have ear wax impaction, the best thing to do is to verify it by seeing your doctor or audiologist. Once they are able to see the condition of your ears, they can recommend the best course of action.
The doctor can help you remove impacted ear wax in the office, and may also have advice for how to remove it from home in the future.
Some other effective ways of cleaning your ears without using cotton swabs are:
- A Damp Cloth You can wipe the outer part of your ear with a warm, damp washcloth to clean any wax that has been expelled from your ear canal. This way you don’t risk pushing ear wax deeper into your ear like with a cotton swab.
- Ear Wax Softener Most drug stores carry over-the-counter ear drops that soften wax. They may contain saline, peroxide, glycerin, baby oil or mineral oil.
- Syringe Some people choose to irrigate their ears using a syringe with saline solution. This allows a gentle rinse, and can be made more effective is a wax softener is first used.
If you do choose to use cotton swabs, be very careful to only clean the outer portion of your ear canal. Don’t insert it too deeply and use a gentle, circular motion .
The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon (925) 394-4646