How do you typically clean your ears after bathing?
Most people tend to use cotton swabs….but did you know swabs can harm you ear drums?
Cotton swab injuries are common. The delicate inner ear tissue is easily broken, and if any thin or pointy object is inserted into in the ear canal, the ear drum can be pierced or nicked, which can potentially lead to vertigo or hearing damage.
If you have always used cotton swabs, you may wonder what you can do to clean your ears.
Ears are self-cleaning
Did you know that ear wax is a good thing? Healthy ears produce ear wax for a good reason. Since our ears are holes in the side of our heads that connect the outside world with our vulnerable brains, ear wax is a defense mechanism. It gathers and traps dust, bacteria, and other debris that may enter our ears and prevents unwanted particles from getting to our brains.
Ear wax is an essential way that our bodies keep our brains safe and healthy.
In rare cases, people develop an overproduction of wax. If you have too much ear wax, ask your audiologist if you need to have a professional ear cleaning.
Regardless, it’s better not to use cotton swabs. When we talk or when we chew, that normal jaw movement helps move ear wax down the ear canal and out of the ears.
Over-production of Wax
If a person’s ears produce too much wax it can become impacted in the ear canal. This may cause blockage and result in temporary hearing loss. Impaction is often uncomfortable, and obviously inconvenient.
One possible cause of ear was impaction is the regular use of ear plugs, which may inhibit ear wax from organically escaping the ear canal. Another reason could be an irregularly shaped ear canal, which may also affect normal ear wax progress.
Ear Wax Removal
A quick visit to your local audiologist can help you to verify if you have ear wax impaction, and they can also assist you in removal and provide guidelines for the future.
So how do I clean my ears without cotton swabs?
- A damp, warm cloth can wipe away ear wax from the outer ear canal, and will not drive wax deeper into your ear.
- Over the counter softeners can soften wax and make it easier to remove. Typical ingredients in ear softening drops are saline, glycerin, baby oil, or peroxide.
- An irrigation syringe will help to flush ears with a solution. This is a gentle way to rinse your ears. Using an ear wax softener first can make irrigation more effective.
If you still want to use cotton swabs, just use caution. Try to only use them in the outer portion of the ear canal. The danger comes when you insert them deeper into the ear canal. Only insert the swabs gently with a circular motion and don’t go too deep.
Remember that 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