How to clean your ears

If cleaning your ears is part of your regular bathing routine, then you can cross it off your list as its already done for you. It’s all thanks to your ears’ ability to self-clean. As you talk and chew, the wax in your ear moves outwards until it eventually falls out. However, this does mean that the unmistakable orangey-brown bits of ear wax can sometimes be visible around the entrance of your ear canal. This is often what tempts people into cleaning their ears, but ear wax is there to protect your ears from dust and dirt.

Ear cleaning tips

Want to know how to properly clean ears? Poking around in your ear with a cotton bud is not a good idea. Putting anything smaller than your elbow into your ear can push ear wax further into the ear canal and risks damaging the delicate skin in your inner ear. The best way to clean your ears is to let your body do it naturally. Your regular jaw movements help any excess ear wax work its way out of your ear.

As ear wax has antibacterial properties and is essential to protecting your ears and keeping them healthy, it’s best to let your ears take care of themselves. Ear wax should only be removed if there is an excessive build-up which is called cerumen impaction. This can cause:

  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Itchy ears
  • Earache or pain in your ear
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear

Speak to a professional

An excessive build of ear wax is a relatively common problem that many people experience at some point in their lives. It can cause your ears to feel full, uncomfortable and painful, and it can affect your hearing. If you think you have too much ear wax, it’s best to seek help before treating the problem yourself. It may be that ear wax isn’t the issue as there can be other causes for clogged ears:

  • Sinus pressure
  • Middle ear infection
  • Water in the ear
  • Allergies
  • Change in altitude

If one of these issues is your causing your ears to feel blocked, there are several remedies for clogged ears you can try.

Damp cloth

One of the gentlest and easiest ways to clean your ears is by using a warm, damp cloth. Use the cloth to wipe around the outside of your ear and remove any excess ear wax. This should be all you need to do. However, if you find that you need a little more help with removing the ear wax, tip your head to one side and gently squeeze warm water from the cloth into your ear canal. Let it sit in your ear for a short time and then tilt your head the opposite way.

Ear drops

You can buy ear cleaning drops over the counter or even make your solution containing mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or glycerine. Putting a few drops into your ear will help to soften and loosen ear wax making it much easier to fall out. It may take several applications with the ear drops before the ear wax drops out. But you must take care as the drops could just loosen the outer layer of wax only for it to get lodged deeper into your ear canal. If your symptoms don’t improve, get advice from your hearing care professional or doctor.

Irrigation

If the problem in your ears is an ear wax blockage, your doctor or hearing care professional can remove it for you. They might carry out the procedure in the office using drops to soften the earwax and then use a special fluid to remove the wax. They may alternatively recommend you doing it yourself by using an irrigation kit at home. The kits come uses plain water and saline and using a syringe, you will gently squirt the solution into your ear canal.

However, irrigation isn’t suitable for everyone. People with any of the following should not use irrigation:

  • Holes or tubes in your eardrum
  • Diabetes
  • Skin conditions in or around the ear

Your auditory system is a remarkable part of your body and something that you need to take care of. While you may feel that cleaning your ears is a necessary daily task for your overall health and hygiene, your ears are already working on it, so knowing how to clean ears really isn't necessary. But if your ears feel full, irritated, or you think you may have an ear infection, speak to your doctor for advice.

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