Are we supposed to clean our ears?

Taking care of your ears is important to ensure you can hear properly.

Cerumen or Earwax is healthy in normal amounts and acts as a self-cleaning agent, lubricant and antibacterial fighter. The benefits are great but problems can occur if we have too much.

WHEN TO CLEAN?

The ear canal is normally self-cleaning however excessive ear wax can be annoying. Over time, uncleaned ear wax can cause earaches, partial hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), itching, or excess discharge. An excess of ear wax can also increase the presence of bacteria resulting in ear infections. When there is too much wax, you need to ensure that you clean out your ears.

HOW TO CLEAN?

With a Cloth

While most people would assume you should clean your ears with cotton swabs, this often causes more damage than good. Using a cotton bud can push the wax further back in the ear, resulting in wax blockage on or near the ear drum. You could also potentially rupture the ear drum if not careful. You should always avoid inserting anything into the ear. Simply use a cloth to wash the external ear.

Cerumen/Ear Wax softening treatments

There are treatments that soften wax. Pharmacies carry detergent drops, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that can help with the removal of the excess wax. Mineral oils can also be used to soften and remove the wax.

Ear Syringing

Your physician can perform ear syringing, or you can purchase a kit from the pharmacy. Water is simply squirted from a syringe into your ear, which will loosen up larger bits of the wax. Syringing can be dangerous for people with specific health conditions, such as diabetes, problems with the ear drum or tubes in the ear and eczema. Always speak with a medical professional before any action beyond cleaning the outer ear with a cloth.

Otolaryngologist Treatments

In more severe cases, your ear doctor or Otolaryngologist(ENT) can use suction and an assortment of other instruments for the removal of cerumen/ear wax.

Ear Candles

Avoid ear candling. It is dangerous and has no medical benefit. Click here to view a warning from Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/medical-procedures/ear-candling.html

For more tips on Cerumen/Ear Wax and general ear care, click here for added information, from WebMD http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ear-wax#1

 

Neil Fine
Audiologist in Ottawa, Ontario

Neil has been practicing Audiology at his own clinic, Hear Fine, for many years. His office is located in the suburb of Ottawa West Nepean.

Menu