How to Get Rid of Earwax

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24-08-2019, 16:00
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Updated: July 27, 2019 Although earwax is a natural substance that helps protect the ear and ear canal, sometimes it builds up, causing hearing difficulties or discomfort. If you're experiencing severe symptoms, like ringing in your ears, difficulty hearing, or dizziness, see a doctor since you may have an ear infection or other more serious condition. However, for simple maintenance, you can remove excess earwax with ear-safe substances like saline solution, hydrogen peroxide, or mineral oil. No matter what, however, always make sure to be gentle with your ears, so you don't cause more harm than good.

Cleaning Your Ears with Liquid Solutions

  1. Rinse your ears with saline solution. A saline rinse is a gentle and effective solution for getting wax out of your ears. Soak a cotton ball with the solution, then tilt the affected ear toward the ceiling and squeeze a few drops into your ear. Keep your head tilted to the side for 1 minute to allow the saline to soak in, then tilt it the other way to let it flow out.
    • Gently dry your outer ear with a towel when you’re done.
    • You can buy pre-made sterile saline solution at the drug store, or make your own by mixing 4 cups (950 mL) of distilled water with 2 teaspoons (11.4 g) of noniodized salt. You can use tap water instead of distilled water, but you should boil it for at least 20 minutes and allow it to cool before use.
    • If your earwax is hard and impacted, you may need to soften it first with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, baby oil, or commercial earwax remover.
  2. Soften stubborn earwax with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has the added advantage of being able to dissolve hardened earwax. To clean your ears, dip a clean cotton ball in a solution of 1 part water and 1 part hydrogen peroxide or pull a few drops into a medicine dropper or syringe bulb. Tilt your ear up and let 3-5 drops flow in, wait 5 minutes, then tilt your ear down to let the fluid flow out again.
    • You may wish to follow up with a plain water or saline rinse.
    • You can use this solution 2 to 3 times a day for up to a week. Stop and consult your doctor if you experience pain or irritation in your ears.
  3. Try baby or mineral oil as an alternative to hydrogen peroxide. Much like hydrogen peroxide, baby or mineral oil can help soften stubborn earwax, making it easier to remove. Use a medicine dropper to put 2 to 3 drops of oil in your ear, then hold your ear facing up for 2-3 minutes so the oil has a chance to soak in. When you’re done, tilt your head to the side to let the oil and wax run out.
    • You can also use glycerin for this purpose.
    • Try using oil to pre-soften your earwax before rinsing your ears with saline solution.
  4. Use alcohol and white vinegar to dry out moist ears. A mixture of alcohol and white vinegar can help cleanse your ears and also dry out extra moisture that might lead to irritation and infection. Mix 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of white vinegar with 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of rubbing alcohol in a clean cup. Draw some of the mixture into an eyedropper and let 6-8 drops run into your upturned ear. Let the mixture run all the way down your ear canal, then tilt your head to let it run out again.
    • If your ears are chronically moist, you can use this solution twice a week for a few months if your doctor recommends it. However, stop and consult your doctor if you experience irritation or bleeding.

Getting a Medical Evaluation and Treatment

  1. See your doctor if you have symptoms of an earwax blockage. If you think you might have excessive earwax in your ear, make an appointment with your doctor. They can not only safely remove any excess earwax, but can also make sure your symptoms are not a sign of a more serious underlying issue. See your doctor if you experience symptoms such as:
    • An earache
    • A feeling of blockage or fullness in your ear
    • Difficulty hearing
    • Ringing in your ear
    • Dizziness
    • A cough that isn’t explained by a cold or other condition
  2. Ask your doctor to rule out an infection or other underlying condition. If you have an ear infection or an ear injury that is contributing to your symptoms, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent further damage. Additionally, an infection or other problem with your ear (such as an injured eardrum) could make cleaning your ears dangerous.
    • If you have an ear infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear it up. You should not put liquids or objects (such as cotton swabs) into an infected ear unless your doctor instructs you to do so.
    • Don’t try to clean wax out of your ears on your own if you have an injured eardrum or an object stuck in your ear.
  3. Discuss having excess wax removed in the doctor’s office. If you have excess earwax and don’t want to attempt to remove it on your own, your doctor may be able to perform a simple in-office procedure to clean your ears. Ask them if they can remove your earwax with a curette (a curved instrument designed to scrape the wax out of your ear canal) or a warm water rinse.
    • Your doctor may also prescribe medicated eardrops to help remove excess wax from your ear. Follow the instructions on these products carefully, since they can irritate your eardrums and ear canals if you use them incorrectly.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Use cotton swabs for shallow cleaning only. Cotton swabs can be used in the outer ear to remove superficial earwax, but don't dig into the ear canal with a cotton swab. The tissue in your ear canal is extremely delicate; it's easy to cause damage by smashing into any of the tissue near the tympanic membrane, or eardrum.
    • Cotton swabs can also push wax deeper into your ear, potentially causing blockages, damage, or irritation.
  2. Stay away from ear candles. Ear candling is a procedure that involves placing a cone-shaped device into the ear and lighting a candle on the far end of the spout. This procedure is supposed to create a vacuum that draws wax and impurities out of the ear. Ear candling is not only ineffective, however, but it can also cause a variety of injuries and ear problems, including:
    • Bleeding from the ears
    • Perforated eardrums
    • Burns to your face, hair, scalp, or ear canal
  3. Don't spray any liquids into your ear with force. Doctors may do this, but you should not. Liquids that are thrust into the ear canal may get past the tympanic membrane and cause an ear infection or damage your inner ear.
    • When irrigating your ears, use a dropper, cotton ball, or syringe bulb to gently introduce the liquid a drop at a time.
    • Never put any liquid into your ear if you have a perforated eardrum or surgically implanted tubes in your ears.

Tips

  • Only use eardrops if your doctor recommends or prescribes them.
  • If your ears still feel full of wax after a week's worth of at-home treatment, consult your physician.
  • Don't push cotton swabs further into your ear than the narrow entrance into your ear canal. This could end with your eardrum taking damage if you accidentally push earwax, or the cotton swab itself, into the eardrum.
  • Don't pick your ears, because your hands may contain bacteria which could increase the risk of infections.

Warnings

  • If you are experiencing ear pain, a fever, loss of hearing or ringing in the ears, do not attempt any home remedies for removing earwax unless your physician recommends it.
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