The medical term for earwax is cerumen. Earwax begins as a mix of fatty secretions from the sebaceous and sweat glands within the outer ear canal. A lot of people find earwax disgusting. It’s a sticky and unsightly body fluid. However, the right amount of earwax is actually helpful for your ears and their hearing. In most cases it is the best idea to leave it alone.
A Natural Cleanser
Earwax cleans your ears as it travels from the inside ear out through the ear canal acting like a means to remove dirt, dead skin and loose hair safely out of the inner ear. Not only that but it is a natural anti-bacterial and antifungal substance, keeping your ears free to hear clean and clearly. While it may seem like a problem too have too much earwax your ears would just feel strange if you did not have enough earwax and most likely suffer from more frequent ear infections.
While earwax is essential to the health of your ears and hearing, too much earwax can be as much of a problem. When an ear canal becomes filled with excessive earwax, earaches and infections are not too far behind. Though it may be tempting to remove the blockage yourself, the American Academy of Otolaryngology stresses that you should never try to remove an earwax blockage on your own. Because of the fragile and complex nature of the inner ear it is far too easy to injure your hearing permanently. However, there are some at home methods for removing earwax from the external region of your ear.
Avoid Cotton Swabs
Contrary to popular opinion, cotton swabs are intended only a cleaning tool for the outside part of the inner ear. Inserting cotton swabs into your inner ear canal can do more harm than good, as it tends to push earwax deeper into the ear canal rather that removing it. Over time this can cause an impaction of cerumen instead of preventing one. As a rule of thumb, unless you are a professional do not stick anything into your ear canal.
Try Using Oils
Olive oil is a common home remedy for naturally clearing an earwax blockage. For this method first warm the oil in your hands. Apply 3 or 4 drops carefully into the ear canal while tilting your head so the oil will travel down the ear canal. The purpose of the oil is to soften the earwax so it can leave the ear canal on its own. This method can be used preventively if you have struggled with earwax blockages in the past in place of cotton swabs on a weekly basis. The shower is a great time and place for this.
Massage the outside of the ear
Sometimes this is all it takes to release an earwax blockage. Massage the ear in a circular pattern softening impaction. Once you’ve massaged your ear for a little bit try pulling your earlobe backwards. This will be particularly effective in tandem with the use of oil.
Use a Warm Washcloth
By heating the blockage with a warmed washcloth often this method is enough to do the trick. Heat the washcloth in the shower or with an iron. Lie on your side placing the warm washcloth over your ear. After some time rinse your ear out in the shower. The steam of the shower will also aid in loosening a blockage.
While you can purchase a solution to loosen earwax blockages you can make your own at home using a tablespoon of sea salt with a half a cup of warm water. Use a warm washcloth to let the solution slowly drip into your ear. This is another preventative measure as opposed to a solution for an acute blockage.
Use Caution with Your Ears
Any home remedy must be performed with caution. Applying a liquid if too hot to your ear damage your ear canal. If you have a serious pain do not try to clean or fix this at home. Your ears are too fragile to risk treating on your own. Contact us at Ear Nose and Throat Consultants to seek proper medical attention.