Earwax is a waxy substance secreted in the human ear canal. Its main function is protecting the skin of the ear canal and providing some measure of protection against water, bacteria, fungi and insects. It also acts as a cleaning and lubricating agent of the ear canal. Ear cleaning is a natural process, the ear releases the wax naturally and removal is not necessary, even discouraged by medicine professionals in normal situations. Check out our favourite ear wax removal tools
Some people, however, produce more of the substance than others and the excess wax build-up can cause ear canal blockage, which can in turn lead to several problems like: hearing difficulties, tinnitus or ringing in the ear, itching, earaches and infections. Visiting a doctor is recommended when a person is experiencing discomfort, pain, hearing loss or an ear infection. However, if the symptoms are less severe, there are ways to soften the earwax and remove the build-up by yourself or with some help from a family member at home, using one of the methods described below. You should never use cotton swabs, paperclips, hairpins, or any such objects to clean your ear canal, as you could push the build- up further in, making the situation worse or even damage or puncture your ear canal and your eardrum.
Saline solution or distilled water wash
The simplest method you can try is using a water wash to dislodge the earwax blockage.
Simply just dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a small cup of lukewarm water or first just use some water without adding anything. In both cases it’s recommended to use distilled water to be sure that the water is clean and won’t cause further complications. You proceed to lay down or simply tilt your head so that the ear is turned upwards and squeeze or drip a few drops of the water into the ear canal using a cotton swab or a clean cloth. Do not insert the cotton swab. Wait three to five minutes in the same position, allowing the water to soften the wax, then simply turn your head in the opposite direction so that the liquid drains out. Use a clean cloth to gently wipe the outer part of your ear and remove the earwax.
Using ear drops is a common and convenient solution to get rid of your excess earwax. These products often contain an ingredient called hydrogen peroxide. As previously mentioned cerumen is the medical term for earwax and hydrogen peroxide is an earwax solvent or cerumenolytic in other terminology, which means it softens and dissolves earwax and helps remove any blockage. Various forms of hydrogen peroxide are used. Carbamide hydroxide is common, it adds oxygen to the wax and creates air bubbles, which helps to soften the earwax. Follow the instructions provided with the product or consult with your doctor when using ear drops, it usually involves steps similar to using saline solution described before. Lying down or head tilted ear upward, squeeze the instructed number of drops into the ear canal. Stay still and allow the drops to work for 5 minutes, then drain the liquid and wipe the outer ear with a tissue or a clean cloth. The usage frequency is usually two to three times a day, for a period of up to a week. Using hydrogen peroxide drops usually has no negative side effects, but it can lead to some problems in cases of an ear infection or previous ear damage. That is the reason it is important to follow instructions provided with the product, consulting with a medical professional beforehand and seeking medical help without delay if complications do occur.
Ear irrigation is a method of earwax removal using tools like ear syringes or ear irrigators.
There is a number of these products readily available at your local pharmacy and most
online health item vendors. The process in question is similar to using saline solution or ear drops with an added advantage of using a gentle stream of water. This stream creates water pressure which helps to dislodge the wax build-up. Ear irrigator products commonly include disposable nozzle tips and basins to drain the liquid into for a hygienic and mess free clean-up.
While these are the most common methods of maintaining your ear hygiene and taking care of potential earwax build-ups, there are numerous other products available, like looped tools for manual removal and otoscopes equipped with removal tips.
Our ears naturally take care of the cleaning process by themselves, but people secreting more earwax than average sometimes experience problems. The methods listed above are the most usual ways of dealing with these problems, however, if there is any doubt how to proceed, or the symptoms are causing you discomfort and pain, do not hesitate to visit and consult with a medical professional.
You can find out what ear pain is here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ear_pain