When should my ears be cleaned?
For many people, the inner part of your ear should never need to be cleaned. Earwax is normal. It helps keep your ears clean and healthy. Most of the time, earwax moves slowly from the inside of the ear to the outer ear by itself; however, sometimes the earwax can build up and cause ear pain, itching, ringing in the ear, the feeling that your ear is plugged, or decreased hearing. In these cases, the earwax may need to be removed.
Why shouldn’t I use Q-tips or ear candles to remove earwax?
Q-tips or cotton swabs, bobby pins, etc can push earwax deeper into your ear, causing a blockage. This can cause hearing loss and possibly damage the ear. Never put anything into your ear. Manual removal of earwax should only be done by a prescriber using proper tools; don’t try to do this yourself.
Ear candling is where a hollow candle is placed in the ear and the outside end is lit. The process is supposed to draw out the earwax, but ear candling doesn’t work and can cause burns, hearing loss, as well as hurt your eardrum.
How can earwax be removed?
Earwax-softening drops using water, saline, olive oil, mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, or ear drops such as Murine for Ear or Debrox can soften earwax and help it move out of the ear. Don’t put any earwax softening drops in your ear if you have an ear infection or damaged eardrum.
Flushing your ear with water (irrigation) can also remove earwax. This can be done at home or by your healthcare provider using a special ear syringe or bulb. This flushing may work best when earwax-softening drops are put in the ear 15 to 30 minutes before. Do not use Waterpik or other electric devices to clean your ears. These devices can damage your ear. Ask your pharmacist to show you the proper way to flush the ear. You should not flush your ears if you have diabetes, a damaged eardrum, a tube in the eardrum, a weak immune system, or if you’ve had ear surgery.
When should I see my prescriber about earwax build up?
If drops or flushing do not help, talk to your prescriber. Also see your prescriber if you have severe ear pain, any discharge from your ear, dizziness, or a change in your hearing.
What can I do to prevent build up of earwax?
Keep your ears clean by washing the outer ear with a cloth on a regular basis. If you often have wax build up or use hearing aids, have your prescriber check your ears every six to 12 months and do a routine cleaning.