If you are sticking a cotton swab in your ear daily to clean out that pesky ear wax you should stop now. The ear is a delicate part of the body that can be easily damaged. If not taken care of properly the inner ear can be damaged permanently.
Why does my body even need ear wax?
Everybody produces at least some ear wax although some may produce more than others. Earwax is produced by the body to coat the ear canal in order to act as a type of water repellent. Earwax is perfectly healthy in normal amounts and ears are generally self-cleaning. Normally, ear wax is migrated towards the front of the ear by ear canal skin that is slowly moving towards the outside of the ear. Once the earwax gets to the edge of the ear it can dry and fall out.
Because ear wax is not formed in the deep part of the ear canal when a patient has a blockage it is because they used something to push the wax deeper in an attempt to clean it out.
So what is the preferred ear wax cleaning method?
Under normal conditions, the ear canals shouldn't have to be cleaned because they are “self-cleaning.” Although, sometimes this isn't the case and during circumstances that the ears need to be cleaned you should clean the external ear with a cloth but do not insert it into the ear canal.
In order to clean the inner ear at home there are a few methods that tend to work. These home treatments focus on softening the wax so that it will come out easily. Things such as mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, or commercial drops may be placed in the ear. While these are not as strong as prescription drops they are still effective in most cases. You may also use rubbing alcohol to flush the ears but do not use hydrogen peroxide because it leaves behind water. The water creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Do not use cotton swabs!
When people use cotton swabs to get wax out of their ears all they are really doing is pushing the wax deeper. This can cause hearing loss and inner ear damage.
Typically wax will dry up, flake, and fall out on its own but if you are noticing wax build up you may want to try one of the above mentioned wax softening methods. But we at UrgENT recommend that you come see us so that we can clean the wax out professionally and get you on your way.
If home remedies or over the counter medication has failed to clear up your excessive ear wax blockage, then it may be time to consult a doctor. Most of the time they will be able to prescribe a more powerful ear drop. The doctor may find that they need to physically remove the blockage by washing or vacuuming the ear canal.
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