3 Ear-Cleaning Methods to Avoid
Ears are naturally self-cleaning organs. But sometimes there can be a buildup of wax - usually the result of an infection or wearing of hearing aids. If you need to clean out your ears, what methods should you avoid?
Cleaning out with cotton buds
Cotton buds seem like the perfect implement to clean out your ears thanks to their handy shape and helpful cotton tip. But audiologists recommend against cleaning your ears using them.
Why? Audiologists suggest that you avoid cotton buds because of their tendency to push wax up against the eardrum, rather than remove it. Over time, the wax can become compacted and even more difficult to remove, causing incoming noises to sound muffled. Also, impacted wax can lead to infection, which can damage internal structures of the ear and cause pain and swelling.
Ear candling is a technique in which a person lays on their side with the blocked ear facing upwards and then has an ear candle inserted into their ear canal. The candle is then lit at the opposite end and slowly burns down toward the ear. Usually, ear candling is done with the help of an assistant who trims away burnt candle material until only a stub is left. Then the candle is removed.
Does ear candling work? The idea behind ear candling is to create a small vacuum in the ear canal that helps to dislodge and draw out impacted ear wax. But studies in established medical journals show that the technique does not create a vacuum and does not remove ear wax from the ear. In fact, in many patients, additional wax from the candle was found in their ear canal.
Ear candling is not only ineffective, but it’s also unsafe. Ear candling can result in burns and damage to the ear, skin, and hair. It can also obstruct the ear if hot wax falls into the ear canal. If the candle isn’t carefully placed inside the ear, it can also lead to a perforated eardrum. In general, most practitioners and audiologists believe that ear candling does more harm than good and should be avoided.
Many people use some kind of ear pick in an attempt to remove stubborn wax from the ear canal. But using an earpick comes with many of the same safety warnings as using cotton buds. Ear picks can cause the wax to become impacted, making it more difficult to remove. And if you’re not careful, it can perforate the eardrum, leading to hearing loss.
The good news is that there are many safe and effective methods that you can use to remove earwax from the ear canal and clean out your ears.
One of the most popular solutions is to use an over-the-counter treatment. These treatments involve pouring liquid into the ear that breaks down and dislodges earwax. If you’re still struggling to remove the earwax, you can always visit your audiologist. Audiologists have a range of specialist equipment and tools that they can use to carefully and professionally remove earwax, including impacted cerumen.