- The article challenges the widespread belief that cleaning ears with cotton swabs is beneficial, stating that it can push wax deeper into the ear canal and cause blockages.
- It explains that earwax, or cerumen, is beneficial in normal amounts, acting as a self-cleaning agent with protective and antibacterial properties.
- Earwax naturally moves from the ear canal to the ear opening where it dries, flakes, and falls out. However, excessive accumulation can lead to cerumen impaction with symptoms like earache, partial hearing loss, and itching.
- The article advises against using home remedies like ear candles due to potential injuries, and encourages seeking professional help for safe removal of excessive earwax.
If you’ve ever grabbed a cotton swab to clean your ears, you may assume that you’re practicing good hygiene – after all, you’re cleaning your ears, right? Wrong. While many of us have grown up thinking it’s best to use cotton swabs to get ear wax out of our ears, this method merely pushes the wax deeper into the canal, which causes a blockage. Wax blockage is actually the most common cause of hearing loss, so while it is important to keep your ears clean, it’s just as important to know how and when to clean them properly.
So, when should you clean your ears? Surprisingly, your ear canals should never have to be cleaned. Earwax (also called cerumen) is healthy in normal amounts and acts as a self-cleaning agent with protective and antibacterial properties. It traps dust and dirt particles to keep them from reaching the eardrum, and without its lubricating properties, we’d have incredibly dry, itchy ears. Most of the time, through chewing and jaw opening, a combination of earwax and dead skin cells makes its way from the ear canal to the ear opening on its own, where it usually dries, flakes, and falls out. Sometimes, however, that’s not the case. When enough earwax accumulates, you may experience cerumen impaction.
- Ear ache, fullness in the ear, or a feeling that your ear is plugged
- Ringing, or noises in the ear
- Partial hearing loss (which may require a hearing test)
- Itching, discharge, or odor
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be tempted to turn to home remedies such as ear candles, but this is not the safest option, as it can cause injuries such as burns and even obstruction of the ear canal with the candle wax. The safest way to remove the ear wax is by going to a healthcare professional. He or she may prescribe eardrops designed to soften wax, or they may choose to wash or vacuum it out – both methods are fast and relatively painless.
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to clean ears with cotton swabs?No, cleaning ears with cotton swabs can push wax deeper into the ear canal, potentially leading to blockages and hearing loss.
Is earwax harmful?No, earwax is not harmful. In normal amounts, it acts as a self-cleaning agent with protective and antibacterial properties.
What happens if earwax accumulates excessively?Excessive earwax can lead to cerumen impaction, causing symptoms such as earache, fullness in the ear, ringing noises, partial hearing loss, itching, discharge, or odor.
Are home remedies like ear candles safe for removing earwax?No, home remedies like ear candles are not recommended as they can cause injuries.
What should I do if I have excessive earwax?If you have excessive earwax, it's recommended to seek professional help for safe removal. This could involve prescribed eardrops or a washing/vacuuming method.
Does earwax have any benefits?Yes, earwax traps dust and dirt particles to prevent them from reaching the eardrum and lubricates the ear to prevent dryness and itching.
Can earwax cause hearing loss?Yes, excessive accumulation of earwax can lead to partial hearing loss.
How does the body naturally get rid of earwax?The body naturally gets rid of earwax by moving it from the ear canal to the ear opening, where it dries, flakes, and falls out.