If your ears have been feeling clogged lately, it’s likely due to a buildup of earwax.
The common reaction to this would be to try to get the earwax out yourself, but before you do this, read our tips below. Sometimes, the more you try to intervene, the worse you can make it.
The Pros And Cons Of Earwax
Earwax can be a good thing in the right amounts. It has natural antibacterial qualities —preventing infections and fungal growth — and it catches dirt and debris before it goes any farther down your ear canal.
The downsides only come when you have too much earwax or it gets impacted, which is when you can experience any of the following:
- Balance issues
- Muffled hearing
- Feeling of fullness in your ears
We often see patients who think they have a hearing loss, but we later find it is only a buildup of earwax that is causing them to hear less clearly. This is easily remedied with an earwax removal appointment.
We hear many stories of people self-treating a hearing loss with online hearing aids, only to find that an earwax removal appointment would have done the trick.
Causes Of Earwax Buildup
Some people naturally produce more earwax than others, but one of the biggest reasons for earwax buildup is from cleaning out the ears too much, as it stimulates the ear to produce more to compensate.
Another reason, which is more common, is from people making the buildup worse by trying to clean out their ears themselves with cotton swabs, causing blockage.
So, what are the best (and not so great) ways to clean the earwax out of your ears?
Earwax Removal At Home
The two most common ways to clean out your ears yourself are:
- Over-the-counter ear drops – The idea behind eardrops is that a few drops a day will soften the earwax. In most cases, though, if you notice it, the earwax is too built up already and needs professional removal. Eardrops only work on a small amount of buildup, not impacted earwax.
- Olive oil or mineral oil – is safe to use in small amounts and usually is already in the home.
The main thing with ear drops is that they can take a few days to weeks to work, but they are the safest at-home method to try. However, avoid this if there is the slightest chance of your reacting to the oil, and never use it if you have a ruptured eardrum.
The two worst ways to clean out earwax yourself are:
- Q-tips or cotton swabs – Everyone is used to the approach, but it is so dangerous. Inserting anything in the ear canal can end up either pushing earwax farther down, impacting it, or even injuring or perforating your eardrum. Never use this method on yourself or children!
- Earwax candle removal – Just because there are a lot of videos about this on YouTube by no means ensures it is a safe method for removing earwax. Far from it. It involves holding the end of a lighted, coned, beeswax-coated “earwax candle” in the ear canal to supposedly create a vacuum that will draw out the earwax. There have been several reports of people burning their hair or face or causing a fire in the home from using this method, and there is no evidence that it even works.
The Safest Way To Remove Earwax
The safest option for earwax removal is to have the earwax professionally removed by a hearing specialist. You can read more about the process here.
If you suspect you might have a buildup of earwax, schedule an earwax removal appointment with one of our hearing specialists, and book a hearing assessment at the same time if it’s been a while since your last one.
Our goal is to optimize your hearing health, and we can make sure everything is as good as it can be in the same visit. Contact us if you have any questions. We’re here and happy to help.