How To Have Healthy, Clean Ears

by | Sep 9, 2021 | Hearing Loss

Keep those cotton swabs away from your ears!

Folks, we’re just gonna say it. Earwax gets a bad rap. We’re not sure why, whether it’s the power of product marketing or something else entirely, but the only Q-Tip we recommend for your ears is the rapper, producer, and founding member of seminal 90s Hip-Hop group A Tribe Called Quest. 

But those cotton swabs? Keep them out of your ears! Why? Because, instead of removing earwax as intended, the use of a cotton swab often will push earwax deeper into the ear canal, which can create obstructions that can make hearing difficult. You also run the risk of accidentally puncturing your eardrum. 

But what about ear candles — are they safe? 

Our short answer is NO. NO THEY ARE NOT. But here’s our more in-depth explanation: Conceptually, ear candles claim to remove excess earwax by creating suction after being lit, essentially sucking the excess wax from your ears. The manufacturers of ear candles claim that this process not only cleans your ears, but can also relieve the effects of tinnitus, earaches, and more. 

But here’s the thing: Ear candles don’t clean your ears. They don’t provide relief from tinnitus. In fact, they don’t really appear to do much of anything outside of putting your ears at greater risk, by exposing them to melting wax, ash, and the increased potential of pushing wax even deeper into your ear canal. Listen, we love holistic remedies as much as the next person, but only when they’re safe and effective, and in our professional opinion, ear candles are neither.   

So is earwax good for your ears?

Your inner ear is very sensitive and delicate, and cotton swabs, no matter how gentle you think you’re being, can potentially cause damage. 

Here’s the thing: Earwax is natural. And, believe it or not, earwax is actually pretty good for you. Despite what many of us have grown up believing (that earwax is gross and must be regularly removed from our ears), earwax, also known as cerumen, serves a purpose in our bodies. 

What does earwax do for the body?

As we mentioned earlier, your ears are sensitive. Earwax acts as a protective layer, one that catches dirt, debris, and even dead skin cells. Without your earwax, these items could enter the ear canal, causing damage and possibly even leading to infection. 

Earwax also prevents your ears from getting to try by acting as a natural moisturizer. And here’s another important reminder about why cleaning your ears with cotton swabs or other tools is unnecessary: Your ears will naturally clean themselves. 

That’s right, your ears are self-cleaning organs. When your jaw moves, either from talking, chewing, or other movements, it loosens the excess earwax in your ears, which will often fall out as you sleep. Using items like cotton swabs prevents this natural occurrence from happening, which of course can lead to an excess of buildup, possible hearing obstructions, discomfort, and hearing issues. 

An important distinction to keep in mind is that people’s ears tend to produce wax at different rates. There are some people whose bodies will produce far more wax than others, and there are a variety of factors that contribute to this, including your diet, your age, and even your ethnicity. 

How do I clean my ears when my body produces too much wax?

In instances where an overproduction of wax is a factor, we recommend that you come see us for a professional cleaning. This is actually quite a common procedure, and one that should be handled with care by a professional. At Colorado Ear Care, we have the training, experience, and equipment necessary to safely and effectively clean your excess buildup of earwax. 

This is also relevant for those of you who wear hearing aids, especially those devices that feature domes or earmolds that are worn inside the ear. 

Though we do educate all of our patients on how to keep their devices clean, wax can build up on more difficult to reach areas of the device, or on those delicate surfaces that a professional should handle to ensure your technology isn’t damaged. 

Earwax and natural oils from your body can also cause your device’s tubing to dry out, become brittle, and even crack in some instances. This means your hearing aids aren’t supporting your hearing as they should be. By coming into our office at least twice a year for a professional device cleaning, we can check your devices, professionally clean them, and replace any parts or make any necessary adjustments needed to help you hear and feel your best. 

Is there a safe way to clean my ears at home?

In between your professional ear cleanings at our office, there are some safe home remedies you can use if you experience an overproduction of earwax. We do not recommend doing this too often, for the reasons already mentioned above. Remember, earwax is good for your ear health. 

If you have healthy ears, you can carefully use a clean eyedropper to place just a few drops of mineral oil or diluted hydrogen peroxide into your ears. After a few days, you can either use warm water from the shower or from a rubber bulb syringe to remove any loosened wax from your ears. Be careful not to push wax further into your ears. 

Again, earwax is a normal function of a healthy ear. However, we understand that some people may experience an excess of earwax, or you might be experiencing some discomfort associated with an excess buildup of wax. No matter what the case might be, we want you to have the healthiest ears and hearing possible. 

Contact us today for your consultation!

Talk with one of our friendly hearing and balance professionals today.