What is the right way to clean earwax?

More importantly, you should know when to remove wax, though I will briefly tell you all about earwax! Been there done that experience :D

A huge unbelievable slug of wax popped of my ear to the kidney tray as the technician squirted lukewarm water into my ear via the scary wax removal syringe.

During my medical school, I got this dry ache/pain behind my ear. I was lucky to have immediate access to the ENT doctors.

By using the otoscope huge ear wax was confirmed as the culprit of my suffering, I was advised to use the wax aid drops for 3 days and then they popped out the ugly glob.

Steps to remove ear wax;

  1. First thing first, use ear wax aid drops to soften your hard ear wax. You can also use baby/olive/mineral oil or glycerine 2–3 drops for 3 days. This makes the hard wax soft and moisture to easily detach from the ear walls causing no pain or injury to the soft skin on removal.

2. Then you can use any of the following methods to remove wax; Ear wax removal kit, ear lavage by washing your ears out with lukewarm water with a needle-less syringe, or the suction tool used by doctors (Do read or watch recommended instructions/youtube videos before trying any procedure)

When to remove Ear wax?

Almost never :D

Only if; Symptoms are caused due to the accumulation of earwax. It can occur in one or both ears, called cerumen impaction.

Symptoms;

  • Ear fullness feeling
  • Pain
  • Hearing difficulty
  • An interesting point you rarely read in books, is that you can suggest ear checkup (kindly/anonymously) if someone’s talking loud (might be due to ear plugged that they can’t hear their voice as normal so they are loud)
  • Tinnitus, ringing in your ears
  • Smell, discharge, or itching of the ears
  • Cough (can be ear wax), throat irritation
  • Earwax noticed frequently coming out (cosmetic reason)

These symptoms are not always caused by earwax, so don’t blame earwax every-time you have these issues, but better to exclude it first :)

Ear Wax benefits;

Earwax is normal for your ears to produce as it helps in lubrication & protection, while the continuous washing or cleaning of the ears will irritate the soft ear walls & imbalance the perfect lubrication thus making it more dry and itchy.

It has antibacterial properties & also works as a filter trapping the dust & harmful particles going deep into the ear.

An important point, “Don’t remove wax unless you have any of the above symptoms”.

2 Wrong but common practices:

  1. Q-tips/Cotton buds are never the best practice, especially cleaning deep with it, as it hardens the wax by accumulating and pushing it against the tympanic membrane or eardrum, it also dries up the ear normal smoothness & lubrication.
  2. Candling: risk of getting burnt, ash coating & perforation of the eardrum, ear canal blockages & infections

See your doctor if you have any kind of concerns/complications.

Comments are appreciated!

Source: “Healthline” Earwax Buildup & Blockage

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Emergency Doctor , MBA in Strategic Management @ Pace University NY

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