Earwax is one of those things everyone has to deal with. It is completely normal, and it is designed to protect and clean the ear. Because of its waxy consistency, earwax (also called cerumen) can help to protect the ear from foreign particles, dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
As part of your body’s normal functioning, earwax naturally works its way out of the ear canal, where it is made, into the ear opening. This is where most people encounter earwax, where it can be yellow, orange, or gray in color.
In some cases, however, a buildup of earwax occurs in the ear. When this happens, there are a few safe ways to remove the buildup. It is important to be aware of what is safe and what is not, as unsafe methods can result in damage to your ear.
To help you safely and effectively remove a buildup of earwax, here are some simple do’s and don’ts to follow:
- Do understand the symptoms of earwax buildup. The presence of earwax is not bad; in fact, it is completely normal. The symptoms of an abnormal buildup include decreased hearing ability, ringing in the ears, fullness in the ears, and changes to the function of a hearing aid (such as sound distortion).
- Do seek professional medical help if you experience the symptoms of earwax buildup. Because other health conditions, such as ear infections, can also cause the same symptoms associated with earwax buildup, it is best to have a medical professional assess the condition.
- Do speak with a medical professional before attempting to remove any earwax buildup with an at-home method. Your medical professional will be able to tell you if you have any other medical conditions that would make at-home remedies unsafe. The medical professional may also be able to recommend a specific at-home solution best suited to your needs.
- Don’t insert any object smaller than your elbow into your ear. This includes cotton swabs, bobby pins, or paper clips. Doing so can cause serious ear damage, such as cutting or puncturing the eardrum or other damage to the ear canal.
- Don’t overclean your ears. As we mentioned, earwax is completely normal and performs an important function for your ears. If you clean your ears too much, you can cause irritation or infection in the ear canal. Overcleaning can also cause earwax buildup.
- Don’t use an ear candle. Research has found that ear candles are not effective for reducing the amount of earwax in the ear canal. In fact, ear candling can even cause damage to the ear canal and eardrum.
- Don’t forget to clean your hearing aids as instructed by your hearing professional.
If you have any questions about how to properly clean out earwax or how to clean your hearing aids, or if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of excess earwax buildup, we encourage you to contact our audiology practice today. Our audiologist and team are experienced and caring, and we are eager to provide you with the care you need.