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How am I supposed to clean my ears?

I get this question daily and to my surprise, not a lot of my patients actually know the answer! Your ears actually have self-cleaning mechanisms in place to manage ear wax. How cool is that!? No need to clean your ears!

Just like a conveyor belt, your ear canals will slowly move debris, like earwax, out of our ear canal in time. This is why it’s so important to stop trying to remove earwax using Q-Tips!. Although it may look like you were successful- what you can’t see is the ear wax you pushed deeper into your ear canal!

Over time these actions can result in an earwax impaction.

Symptoms of earwax impaction:

I have had patients complain of ear pain, ringing in the ears, tinnitus, hearing loss, and sometimes even dizziness. What happens is the longer the ear wax sits inside the ear canal the harder it gets. Once that ear wax is pushed up against the eardrum it can cause several symptoms mentioned above. One of the most common complaints I see is that the impaction is causing tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or fullness. 

You are more likely to have an earwax impaction if you wear hearing aids, frequently use hearing protection, use Q-Tips or have dry skin. At Sonora Hearing Care, LLC we are always happy to perform ear cleanings if needed.

How are ear cleanings performed? 

At our location, we have several different options to remove ear wax from the ear canal. One of the most common ways is by using a curette to gently remove the ear wax from your ear canal. This is also commonly used by our otolaryngologists. 

Our most popular method and easiest method is water irrigation to remove the ear wax. Since our ear canals are essentially a hollow cylinder with one end closed (tympanic membrane) the water gently loosens the earwax and then eventually leaves the ear canal. This method is safe and less time consuming for our patients with little to no discomfort. 

Is there a way for me to clean my ears safely at home?

I know it’s not the answer you want to hear but you need to resist the urge to stick a Q-Tip or other foreign object into your ear canal! As mentioned above, putting something into your ear canal is counterproductive. It will only push the wax deeper into your ear canal. 

I’m going to be honest with you, we can usually tell when someone uses Q-Tips due to the depth of the ear wax and sometimes there is even an indent in the wax that looks a lot like the edge of a Q-Tip! 

So what can you try at home? A damp cloth on the outer ear to clear away debris is your best option. There are a lot of wax softeners that you can purchase over the counter but your best option is to let a professional take a peek! 

I’ve got to know: Does ear candling really work?

I always smile when I get this question!

I do not recommend this as ear candling is both dangerous and ineffective. Advocates for candling claim that the dark residue that is left after burning the candle is ear wax. However, the waxy residue is derived from the candle itself and not the ear! It’s hard for someone to tell the difference because the color of the candle itself matches the light brown-colored wax of the human ear!

Not to mention those candles are also hollow so the hot burnt wax could actually drop down inside the candle, into the ear canal and potentially burn the eardrum!!

Ouch!! Please do yourself a favor and leave the cerumen removal up to a professional!

For more information about earwax removal methods, or to schedule an appointment Click here or please call our office at 520-881-8740.