A List of Don’ts
While it is natural to want to stay clean, there are several things people should not do with regards to this sensitive organ. Cotton swabs are extensively marketed for cleaning ears. In many cases, however, your body keeps itself clean. The process of inserting a cotton swab into the canal can actually do more harm than good. This process may push cerumen back down into the canal instead of allowing it to work itself out naturally. Once this pattern begins, the body may even respond by producing more wax. Over time, the cerumen can become severely compacted, which can partially or completely obstruct the canal.
Additionally, people should never attempt to use any sharp instruments for ear wax removal. Items such as paper clips, hairpins, and toothpicks can result in serious injury, perhaps even causing a punctured drum.
A number of over-the-counter remedies are also available for ear wax removal. These remedies include candling and flushing. The candling process involves lighting a hollow candle and using the heat from the candle to create suction, which should pull out any cerumen. A number of problems can occur from candling, including potential burns and dripping candle wax. Flushing involves the use of water to dislodge a blockage. A danger associated with flushing is moisture becoming stuck behind the blockage, which could cause inflammation.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective method for dislodging blockages. One way to resolve unpleasant buildup is to simply place a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide into the ears before taking a shower. During the course of the shower, the warm water should help loosen and wash away stubborn blockages. Some people like to place a drop of mineral oil into the ears daily. This can help combat dry skin, which can exacerbate blockages.
Getting Professional Assistance
Sometimes despite home efforts, ear wax removal proves difficult. You will know you are having a serious problem if you experience gradual hearing loss, ringing, pain, and a feeling of fullness. When this occurs, see a physician for assistance.
A clinician can irrigate the canal to clean it out. Generally, this process simply involves warmed plain water or saline. Another procedure involves manual removal using suction. The doctor will magnify the area with a microscope and then use a small instrument to pull out the blockage. This can be an excellent option for anyone with a narrow canal or who has had a perforated drum.