Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears.
Once more, for the people in the back, don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Not only does this just force the earwax deeper — potentially resulting in cerumen impaction — it can also leave lesions in your ear canal. In the worst-case scenario, you can even rupture your eardrum.
As for ear candling, that’s snake oil at best, actively harmful at worst. You’re more likely to wind up with burns in and around your ears than you are to get rid of any wax. It’s quite possibly the only thing worse than Q-tips.
Most of the time, you don’t even need to clean out your earwax. Your ears, for the most part, are self-cleaning. That said, if you do end up suffering from excessive cerumen buildup, there are multiple methods safer than jamming something into your ear canal.
Use Ear Drops
If your earwax buildup isn’t severe, or you’re willing to wait a little while to see results, ear drops are one option to explore. Available either over-the-counter or as a prescription, they work by gradually softening and dissolving the built-up earwax. They’re gentle, with little chance of causing any severe damage, and relatively easy to use, as well.
Generally, ear drops contain a chemical like hydrogen peroxide. They’re pretty simple to use, requiring only that you lay on your side, drip the solution into your ear, and wait a few minutes. Rinse and repeat for the recommended treatment period, and your ears will be clean before you know it.
Purchase a Specialized Cleaning Kit
If ear drops don’t quite do the trick, you might consider taking things a step further and purchasing a device or kit designed to clean your ears. As with ear drops, these kits are generally freely available both at most pharmacies and online. The most common of these simply irrigate the ears, flushing them out with a solution of clean water.
Suppose you’re willing to shell out a bit of extra money. In that case, you might consider taking things a step further and purchasing a smart device like the Spade Earwax Removal Tool, which features multiple cleaning implements and an internal camera so that you can avoid causing any damage to your ears.
Visit the Doctor
Last but certainly not least, when in doubt, your best bet is a trip to the doctor’s office. An ear, nose, and throat specialist has the equipment and the expertise not only to determine if your ears need to be cleaned but also to carry out that cleaning safely, at no risk to you or your hearing. That aside, regular hearing tests and ear exams are a good thing, as well.
About the Author:
Dr. Renee Flanagan is the Director of Audiological Care at HearingPlanet. She works with the training and development of Hearing Care staff so they may help the hearing impaired population by following best in class hearing healthcare practices.